Refugee families being forced into homelessness, World Meeting of Families hears

Too many ‘hoops to jump through’ for refugee families leaving direct provision, says Crosscare

Refugee families who have come through the direct provision system are increasingly being forced into homelessness due to the lack of housing options, the World Meeting of Families has heard.

Speaking at the session entitled ‘a Christian response to Migrants and Refugees’ in the RDS, Danielle McLaughlin from the Crosscare social support agency called on the Government to be “more strategic” in supporting families who have been granted international protection in this country.

Ms McLaughlin warned that a lack of housing, failures in the immigration system and barriers to securing an income and accessing healthcare are preventing refugees from integrating into their new Irish home.

“We do have services in place but there are barriers and hoops to jump through. We want the Government to do better to respond adequately and reduce furthering the burden these families already carry.”


Citing the experience of a Middle Eastern family who spent last Christmas in emergency accommodation, Ms McLaughlin said the local council office refused on two occasions to register them as homeless. The family, who came to Ireland through family reunification after the father was granted international protection, had already found a place to live but were evicted shortly before Christmas. When the council finally agreed to register the family as homeless they were told to find suitable B&B accommodation themselves, said Ms McLoughlin. "They did not have enough English to make the booking and coming up to Christmas accommodation was in high demand. The landlord was harassing them by phone and said they had to leave."

Significant contribution

“If Ireland wants to maintain itself as a player and make a significant contribution... the Government needs to be more strategic and put more supports in place.”

Rev Mark Madden from the Archdiocese of Liverpool underlined the success of community sponsorship in welcoming refugee families into communities across the United Kingdom. "In 2015 Pope Francis asked that every parish, every religious community, every monastery, take in one family," he said. "In the UK many communities have come together to look after a family. Even the archbishop of Canterbury has welcomed a Syrian family to live with him in Lambeth palace. This creates a new relationship between refuges and host communities."

“In losing their homes and livelihoods, refugees also lose their dignity and pride and Christians must help them regain their worlds as human beings and rediscover the joy of living,” he told attendees. “We can help people not to lose hope and to continue to live with dignity.”

Mena Doherty, who volunteers with women living in the Emergency Reception and Orientation Centre (EROC) in Ballaghaderreen agreed that community involvement plays a vital role in supporting refugee families as they settle in this country. “We all know from our own lives that we need more than just food and water shelter to be whole. We, as a community, have got to continue to keep that support going at a pace that they’re able to deal with and not to have it rushed and pushed upon them.”

Sorcha Pollak

Sorcha Pollak

Sorcha Pollak is an Irish Times reporter and cohost of the In the News podcast