Asylum applications up 53 per cent as direct provision centres reach capacity

A clear Government plan on asylum needed to prevent spread of ‘populist, racist agenda’

Jim O’Callaghan said it was apparent some people would opportunistically go to places like Oughterard, “for the purposes of drumming up a racist agenda”. Above, a silent protest march makes its way from Oughterard town to the former Connemara Gateway Hotel. Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy.

Jim O’Callaghan said it was apparent some people would opportunistically go to places like Oughterard, “for the purposes of drumming up a racist agenda”. Above, a silent protest march makes its way from Oughterard town to the former Connemara Gateway Hotel. Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy.

 

Asylum applications have increased by 53 per cent in the first nine months of this year and almost 1,400 asylum seekers are being housed in emergency accommodation, the Dáil has heard.

Minister of State David Stanton said that “due to an unexpected rise in applications, figures are up 53 per cent” up to the end of September.

He said that direct provision centres had reached capacity and there was an ongoing effort through a tender process to find further centres of accommodation.

He said there are 1,389 applicants in 34 emergency accommodations centres around the country.

And there are 855 people with permission to remain in the State who have remained in direct accommodation.

Fianna Fáil justice spokesman Jim O’Callaghan, who raised the issue, said, “fortunately in this country we’ve avoided the worst excesses of far right politics.

“Just because we’ve avoided it in the past doesn’t mean we’re always going to be able to avoid it in the future and there are people out there who are opportunistically trying to use this issue for their own political right-wing agenda.”

He said it was apparent some people would opportunistically go to places like Oughterard, “for the purposes of drumming up a racist agenda”.

The developer of a hotel in the town which was earmarked to open as a direct provision centre withdrew his tender this week.

The Dublin Bay South TD said one way to prevent the spread of this “populist and racist appeal” is if the Government has a clear plan in place as to how people seeking asylum are going to be accommodated into the future.

He suggested they look at State-owned accommodation and to also consider fostering as an option.

“There are many well-intentioned people in this country who want to help people seeking asylum.”

Mr Stanton said there were 38 centres working very well and the local communities had welcomed people who have integrated well and worked on ventures such as tidy towns.

He said they had looked at State-owned properties.

They had improved standards enormously and almost half of residents have self-catering accommodation and many have their “own door”.