Audit identifies just 500 extra beds for asylum seekers despite 4,300 Ukrainians leaving accommodation

Department of Integration sourced beds with providers who are contracted to house Ukrainians which can be converted to accommodate asylum seekers

An audit of emergency accommodation for migrants has found roughly 500 extra beds, despite thousands of Ukrainians leaving their accommodation while hundreds of asylum seekers remain unaccommodated.

Figures compiled by the Department of Integration show there are 4,300 fewer Ukrainians in hotels and other serviced accommodation compared with the start of the year, while 1,260 people seeking international protection remain unaccommodated.

A spokesman for Minister for Integration Roderic O’Gorman said on Wednesday the department had sourced “several hundred” beds with providers who are contracted to house Ukrainians which can be converted to accommodation for asylum seekers.

“We have undertaken an audit of capacity and have started engaging with providers, and have identified an initial several hundred beds which can be converted. That process is now under way.”


It is understood that about 500 extra beds were identified through that process. The department said it was a commercial decision for providers who to accommodate.

It is understood there are about 2,500 “potential vacancies” among beds contracted for Ukrainians, due to people leaving and fewer arrivals, but the department said they were not necessarily available due to room configuration demands and to keep some capacity available should contracts end elsewhere.

Government sources said on Wednesday that some providers who had housed Ukrainians no longer wanted to rent space to the State, while the State was also looking to maximise value for money and avoid unsuitable locations.

The most recently published statistics show there are 53,694 Ukrainians in serviced accommodation, compared with 58,007 at the start of the year.

The department said since January, it had found an extra 2,400 beds approximately, but the accommodation situation remained dire even as demand for Ukrainian housing dwindled as arrivals dropped.

“Despite exhaustive efforts by the department, the supply of accommodation has very seriously diminished, while at the same time the highest ever monthly international protection applications occurred in January and in February.

“What accommodation can be opened faces significant local opposition and at this point is primarily being utilised for families in order to avoid women and children becoming homeless.

“Notwithstanding the current challenges, officials are seeking to expedite a solution for those who are rough sleeping. Intensive work is under way to offer a safe place of shelter to as many unaccommodated IP applicants as possible.”

It comes as the Government faces ongoing pressure from the Opposition to house those on the streets, many of whom are living in a makeshift encampment in Dublin, and criticism from civil society groups over changes to accommodation and welfare supports for Ukrainians.

Social Democrats integration spokeswoman Jennifer Whitmore wrote to Roderic O’Gorman on Wednesday raising concerns about the lack of sanitation and running water at the encampment as well as safety concerns for those living there.

Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, Labour’s justice spokesman, said they were in “particularly degrading conditions”. He said there was a “victim punishment” approach from the Government so people were discouraged from coming.

From today, Ukrainians arriving in Ireland will be accommodated for 90 days in specific accommodation centres before being asked to move on, and welfare entitlements while in State accommodation have been cut to €38.80 for an adult and €29.80 per child.

On Wednesday, the Government confirmed the location of almost 2,000 beds for Ukrainian refugees across five different locations around the country, in centres in Dublin, Laois, Limerick, Kildare and Cork.

Emma Lane Spollen of the Ukraine Civil Society Forum accused the Government of “washing its hands” of the challenge of accommodating Ukrainians. In January, the forum told Mr O’Gorman it was “deeply concerned” about the changes and said they were creating a “system based on deterrence”.

Sinn Féin said the cut in welfare should apply to all those here from Ukraine, not just new arrivals, and opposed the new 90-day limit.

Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones

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