The Department of Justice has issued an urgent call for expressions of interest from hotels and guest houses willing to provide emergency full-board accommodation for asylum seekers for up to six months.
The call-out, which appeared on the Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) website and as an advertisement in The Irish Times on Monday, said it was seeking temporary housing as an “interim measure” to meet the “urgent and increase demand for accommodation” for asylum seekers.
It noted that the accommodation must be “readily available”, be able to provide full board (a bed and three meals) and that any booking arrangements would be for a maximum of 24 weeks.
A separate public tendering process is under way to secure more sites to be used as direct provision centres on a longer-term basis. The department underlined that the call-out for expressions of interest would not replace the ongoing tendering process which is set to continue until 2020.
Suspected arson attack
The call for more rooms to accommodate asylum seekers follows a suspected arson attack on the Shannon Key West Hotel in the town of Rooskey on the Roscommon/Leitrim order last Thursday. The hotel had been set to house 80 people as a direction provision centre and was due to open in the coming weeks.
In December, this paper reported that five of the 38 direct provision centres dotted around Ireland were oversubscribed with residents, while the majority of other centres were close to capacity.
Direct provision centres in counties Meath, Laois, Cork and Clare were housing more people than agreed under contracted capacity by early December, with the former Mosney holiday camp near Drogheda housing an additional 19 people. A number of commercial hotels were already being used as temporary housing before Christmas to meet the rise in demand for housing.
The Department of Justice has been criticised for plans to open centres in some of the most isolated parts of the country, including the village of Moville on the Inishowen peninsula in Co Donegal. The planned site for the new centre in Moville, the Caiseal Mara Hotel, was also severely damaged in an arson attack in November. Repairs on the hotel are scheduled but are not yet under way. There is "no set date" for when the repairs will be completed, according to the Department of Justice.
As of January 2019 there are 6,162 people living in direct provision centres.
The call-out notice from the department states that the RIA was “not seeking exclusive use of any premises” and that any rooms not being used in the hotel or guesthouse by the agency can continue to be made commercially available.
“Accommodation that is not close to a town/urban area with links to the Dublin area should provide a transport solution,” it adds.
The RIA will select the “most appropriate hotels or guesthouses to meet the emergency need for accommodation services for people seeking international protection” from those who express interest in the scheme. Offers will be assessed on whether the accommodation is “clean and safe”, within “a reasonable travel distance to the International Protection Office in Dublin”, has transport links to Dublin and by cost. The deadline for expressions of interest is January 28th, 2019.