Department denies issuing eviction letters to asylum seekers
Families with leave to remain in Ireland also report receiving letters asking them to move
David Stanton, Minister of State at the Department of Justice: has made a commitment that no asylum seeker on a deportation order will be made homeless
The Department of Justice has said it did not issue “eviction letters” to people in direct provision despite reports that asylum seekers have received letters indicating they must leave their centres within a month.
A number of asylum seekers have received letters from the Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) of the Department of Justice informing them that they must vacate the hostels where they have lived while awaiting an outcome on their deportation orders.
A number of families and adults who have already received their leave to remain in Ireland, but who were unable to find suitable accommodation outside direct provision, have also reportedly received letters requesting they leave the centres.
According to the Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland (Masi) group, a family with leave to remain were told they had to leave their home on Usher’s Quay, which is owned by the RIA, and relocate to a direct provision centre in Galway despite all four children attending school in the capital.
“Every direct provision resident who has been granted the right to stay in the country is looking forward to leaving direct provision and start a new life in the community,” said the group. “Because of the housing crisis we are facing in this country, they are forced to stay in direct provision for months or even years with no assistance or support to find adequate housing.”
A statement from the department said it was working with NGOs, housing agencies, local authorities and religious groups to provide assistance to those with permission to remain in the State.
However, it added that it was “incumbent on those with deportation orders to remove themselves from the State”, adding that those who fail to leave would be “forcefully removed”.
“A deportation order arises after an extensive process where applicants have every opportunity to present their claim for asylum or other types of leave to remain, including various appeal stages,” said the statement. “It is unreasonable to expect that persons with deportation orders can continue in State-provided accommodation indefinitely.”
The department warned that with the current rate of demand, direct provision centres would run out of space for all applicants in three weeks’ time.
The letters sent to those facing deportation write that the RIA has “no role in the provision of accommodation to persons once a decision has been made on their application” and give them a month to leave.
Nasc, the Irish Immigrant Support Centre, accused the department of “ actively seeking to make asylum seekers homeless and destitute” and called the letters “cruel and inhumane”. It warned that several of the men who had presented to the centre with letters were from countries that Ireland could not deport to, including Palestine and Somalia.
However, it welcomed Minister of State at the department David Stanton’s commitment that no asylum seeker on a deportation order would be made homeless.
“For the last 17 years, the Department of Justice has provided accommodation for people from the point they apply for asylum, until such time as a person has been granted a residency permission, has left the country voluntarily or has been removed by the State,” said Fiona Finn, head of Nasc. “The Department cannot, all of sudden, decide it no longer has a duty of care to this cohort of people, without providing some viable and durable alternative solutions.”
Mr Stanton has said the department will cover the full cost of returning people to their home country. However, he failed to confirm where asylum seekers would stay in the time period between leaving the centres and boarding a plane.
Asylum seekers, including those on deportation orders, have no entitlements to social welfare and cannot access homelessness services. Once a person vacates the direct provision system they are no longer entitled to the €21.60 weekly allowance.
A person or family are issued with a deportation order after their application for asylum, and subsequent appeals, are rejected. Many people have spent years waiting for a decision on their case.