State to pay €1.5m to EU amid lack of space for asylum seekers

Ministers set to approve plans for the financial contribution at Cabinet on Thursday morning

The State will pay €1.5 million to a European relocation system because the Republic does not have the space to accommodate an additional 350 international protection applicants.

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee and Minister for Integration Roderic O’Gorman will receive Cabinet approval for the €1.5 million financial contribution which will be made to meet the State’s commitments under an asylum seeker relocation system, known as the voluntary solidarity mechanism.

The State previously agreed to accept an extra 350 international protection applicants as part the solitary agreement, which sees international protection applicants relocated in various EU member states.

The two Ministers will tell the Cabinet that due to the large unforeseen increase in the number of people fleeing Ukraine and international protection applicants, the State’s capacity to provide accommodation is under “severe pressure”.


Ministers will instead agree that the State should opt to provide a financial contribution to meet its commitments under the solidarity relocation programme, to the tune of €1.5 million.

It comes as the Government plans to provide about 1,500 beds through “floating accommodation” for asylum seekers.

The Department of Integration told The Irish Times it had received a number of recent offers of such accommodation, which can come in the form of “floatels” on barges or similar vessels.

The department is currently providing accommodation for more than 86,500 people. This includes more than 65,600 people from Ukraine and more than 20,900 international protection applicants from other countries.

Since January, about 2,540 hotel beds have been lost for the International Protection Accommodation Service (IPAS) as businesses switch back to the tourist market, according to figures provided to the Dáil by Mr O’Gorman. He said a further 92 beds will be lost by the end of June.

Mr O’Gorman separately provided an update on Government plans to secure floating accommodation for asylum seekers in a written response to a question from People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy.

Among other measures detailed by Mr O’Gorman was his department’s plan to publish a request for tender for floating accommodation in the coming weeks. “It is envisaged that circa 1,500 bed spaces will be created from this accommodation type,” Mr O’Gorman said.

There are currently no timelines on the publication of the tender as it is subject to first finalising the berths for the so-called “floatels”.

Last month Government sources said several sites were under consideration for berthing, including Sir John Rogerson’s Quay in Dublin. Dublin Port declined to comment at the time.

The Port of Cork confirmed in May that Horgan’s Quay and Penrose Quay had been identified as possible locations for accommodation. It said discussions were at “a very early stage”.

In his response to Mr Murphy, the Minister also detailed continued efforts to match Ukrainian refugees to accommodation pledged by the public with 7,300 people so far living in 3,200 such properties.

He also referenced the plan to accommodate up to 2,800 people from Ukraine in 700 modular homes, the first of which are to come on stream from mid-June.

Mr O’Gorman said IPAS considers all offers of accommodation and is availing of office buildings, decommissioned Defence Forces barracks and tents to try to address a shortfall.

As of Tuesday evening there were 113 asylum seekers that had no offers of accommodation.

The department told The Irish Times that it has found places to stay for more than 1,300 unaccommodated international protection applicants since January 24th and is continuing to “work intensively” to source further beds for those who have not had offers.

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn is a Political Correspondent at The Irish Times