New migrant tent encampment springs up on Leeson Street in Dublin

Volunteers supporting rough-sleeping asylum seekers are concerned the ‘inconsistent’ approach being taken to city encampments

More than 20 more tents sheltering homeless asylum seekers remained pitched around Leeson Street bridge at the Grand Canal in Dublin on Friday afternoon amid confusion as to whether the men would access accommodation over the weekend.

Volunteers supporting rough-sleeping asylum seekers are concerned at the “inconsistent” approach being taken to such smaller encampments following several high-profile clearances, involving multiple statutory agencies, of hundreds of men and their tents, in recent weeks.

The Department of Integration, which manages the International Protection Accommodation Service (IPAS), said on Friday: “An Garda Síochána can ... make referrals to IPAS when tents with IP applicants are identified in public areas”. However, volunteers said gardaí at the scene on Thursday night did not contact IPAS’s 24-hour number when about 30 tents were pitched.

Volunteer Olivia Headon said in the cases of smaller encampments in the past week, at Clyde Road and Herbert Park in Ballsbridge, in Milltown and along the quays the men concerned accessed IPAS accommodation following Garda intervention.


It is understood IPAS staff visited the latest encampment on Friday afternoon and took details of men there at the time. Several men, however, were not present having left to get food and showers. Their tents remained at Fitzwilliam Place in the late afternoon.

These small encampments emerged following the most recent multi-agency clearance of tents from the banks of the Grand Canal at Wilton Place on May 30th when 109 men were offered accommodation. This followed another clearance, also from the Grand Canal banks, on May 21st when 89 men were offered accommodation.

Before that, on May 9th, over 100 men in tents at the Grand Canal were offered accommodation following a multi-agency operation to clear tents. These followed previous clearances of up to 200 tents around the premises of the International Protection Office (IPO) on nearby Mount Street, Lower.

Ms Headon appealed for a consistent approach by agencies in contact with rough-sleeping asylum seekers. She said they should all be referred to IPAS for accommodation.

She said the canal was not a safe place to pitch a tent, given its proximity to water, the lack of sanitation and the likely presence of vermin “but it is the only place the men could find to pitch their tents after being repeatedly moved from other locations nearby”.

She added: “It is particularly frustrating that there were four gardaí there last night and all of the tents were occupied and some had two or three men in them and they would not take a record of the men rough sleeping together and insisted they should communicate with IPAS directly themselves.”

IPAS does not have a public office and only communicates with the men by email. “Those emails are often not responded to,” said Ms Headon.

Asked whether it was Garda policy to refer rough-sleeping asylum seekers to IPAS for accommodation, a Garda spokesman said: “Queries regarding the accommodating of International Protection Applicants should be directed to IPAS. In keeping with our mission statement of keeping people safe members of An Garda Síochána regularly engage with homeless people and rough sleepers to check on their welfare.”

Dublin Simon, which runs the rough-sleeper outreach team, said it was “standard practice ... to contact IPAS when we encounter an asylum sleeper bedding down”.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Integration said it was “in regular contact with the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive, the Dublin Simon Community, and others, particularly with regard to the identification of vulnerable individuals.

“These organisations are provided with the Department’s duty phone, which is monitored 24/7, which they can use to identify said individuals. Prioritisation is given to the most vulnerable individuals.

“An Garda Síochána can also makes referrals to IPAS when tents with IP applicants are identified in public areas. Once these tents are vacated following the provision of accommodation, Dublin City Council is responsible for their removal.”

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland is Social Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times