Proportion of single men among asylum seekers fell sharply in final weeks of 2023

Decline came as State ran out of capacity to offer beds to the cohort

The Department of Integration published new figures on Tuesday showing 512 male asylum seekers have now been left without accommodation due to the shortage of places for asylum seekers. Photograph: Alan Betson

The proportion of single men among asylum seekers arriving in Ireland declined sharply in the final weeks of last year as the State ran out of capacity to offer beds to this cohort of migrants.

Meanwhile, separate figures show that the number of Ukrainian refugees who sought temporary protection in Ireland in the last two months of 2023 has almost halved compared with the same period in 2022.

The data comes as the Cabinet signed off on plans to cut the welfare payments that future arrivals from Ukraine will be entitled to with legislation due to come before the Dáil to do this as early as next week.

There is significant pressure on Ireland’s system for housing refugees from Ukraine and those seeking international protection (IP) from other countries. There have been local protests against planned accommodation centres for single men, most recently in Ballinrobe, Co Mayo.

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For the final week in December, figures compiled by International Protection Accommodation Services (IPAS) show just 29 per cent of arriving asylum seekers were single males. While this was still the largest single group, it is significantly down on recent months.

For both September and October, half of those arriving into the State were single males, and in November, it was 43 per cent. Figures published on December 10th show that in the preceding week, single men made up 54 per cent of arrivals, but the figure rapidly dropped off as the month progressed.

The Government confirmed on December 4th it could not provide accommodation. Government sources believe the drop-off is likely in part down to word of mouth about the accommodation crisis facing single men applying for international protection here.

In early December, the Government confirmed it was no longer in a position to offer single men accommodation amid a nationwide shortage. The trends in the prevalence of men arriving are similar to the last period when the State could not offer accommodation, during the first months of 2023.

In January of last year, 50 per cent of arrivals were in this category but this dropped as low as 35 per cent before the Department of Integration sourced new accommodation and was able to offer beds again.

The Department of Integration published new figures on Tuesday showing 512 male asylum seekers have now been left without accommodation due to the shortage of places for asylum seekers. A total of 579 people were unable to be accommodated, at least initially, since the start of December; 67 were subsequently offered places to stay.

Those who are not being offered accommodation are being given an increased weekly payment of €113.80 and being referred to drop-in centres run by two homelessness charities.

Separately, newly released figures show the number of Ukrainian refugees who arrived in Ireland in the last two months of 2023 is almost half the number who came here in the same period in 2022.

Department of Justice figures show that 4,594 people from Ukraine sought temporary protection in Ireland between October 30th, 2023 and the end of the year. That is a drop of almost 48 per cent on the 8,806 Ukrainian refugees who arrived during the same two months in 2022.

The figures for the first week of January are likely to be down on the previous year as well.

The Government will move to introduce legislation as early as next week to cut the social welfare entitlements of Ukrainian refugees who come to Ireland in future, Ministers were told at Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting.

Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys briefed colleagues on the details of the legislative changes that will be required to reduce weekly welfare payments from €232 per week to under €39. The Government says the changes are necessary as current arrangements are “unsustainable”.

More than 100,000 people from Ukraine have fled to Ireland since Russia invaded their home country in 2022.

But a Government spokesman was unable to say what level of weekly arrivals would be sustainable. “There is no target for how many numbers of Ukrainians we expect to arrive as a result of the changes,” he said. Nonetheless, it is anticipated in Government that the number of arrivals will drop due to the changes.

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Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn is a Political Correspondent at The Irish Times

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy is Political Editor of The Irish Times