Asylum seekers in tents in the Grand Canal area to be moved

Significant concern in Government over ‘record levels’ of new arrivals as State struggles to find extra space

The Government will move as early as Thursday morning to begin relocating asylum seekers from tents in the Grand Canal area.

There is a push by senior officials to significantly increase the level of tented accommodation offered at sites such as Crooksling in southwest Dublin, with Taoiseach Simon Harris promising action “very soon” on Wednesday evening.

Mr Harris later told the Fine Gael parliamentary party that as issues arise, such as what has happened alongside the city canal in recent days, “they will be dealt with.”

There is significant concern at the highest levels of Government, however, about what one source described on Wednesday night as “record levels” of new arrivals as the State is struggling to find extra space.


The number of tents along the Grand Canal, near Mount Street Lower where the headquarters of the International Protection Office (IPO) is located, continued to increase on Wednesday, with more than 100 tents present.

A significant number of those sleeping there were from Palestine, as well as Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan. None of those who spoke to The Irish Times were aware of a planned clearance.

However, more than 100 male asylum seekers were told they would be transferred from Citywest and Crooksling, in Dublin, in recent days an apparent move to free up space for others in tents along the Grand Canal.

About 60 men were preparing to leave Crooksling on Wednesday morning. It is unclear if all 60 were transferred. About 35 were moved to Newtownmountkennedy in Co Wicklow, a location of recent anti-asylum seeker protests.

A further 50 are expected to leave Citywest on Thursday. Notices posted at the sites said transfers would take place from 10am. Men in neither location were told where they would be moved to.

Government sources said that while processing times for asylum applications are “showing improvement” this is being matched with incoming applications which are “the highest on record”.

They said that last week there were more than 610 new arrivals, including families with children – a number that would normally arrive here over a two-month period.

The existing short-term plan will remain in place, with the State providing sites where people can be accommodated in tents. An expression of interest for office blocks and units needing refurbishment has gone out. Officials continue to work on plans to add up to eight extra countries to the list of countries of safe origin.

It comes as a Government-appointed advisory group has raised “questions and concerns” about the State’s new refugee accommodation strategy.

While welcoming parts of the plan, the Expert Advisory Group (EAG) on Ending Direct Provision, chaired by former senior civil servant Catherine Day, flags issues with the plan in a letter to Minister for Integration Roderic O’Gorman released under Freedom of Information laws.

The group urged a time limit for the phasing out of “quick fix” accommodation in the private sector which may be unavoidable in the short term but does not meet the relevant standards.

The group wrote: “The need to be realistic about what can be achieved in a short timescale should not overrule the principles set out in the White Paper [on ending direct provision].”

The EAG also wants an expanded mandate for the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) to inspect all accommodation for international protection applicants and for the results to be made public. Ms Day and her colleagues said the State’s plan to buy buildings, convert empty office blocks and use modular homes “risks taking a long time to deliver”.

It also wants criteria to ensure a “fair and evidence-based geographic distribution is seen to be operating and does not remain at the aspirational level”, adding that there needs to be a “greater sense of urgency” around communications.

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland is Social Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times

Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones

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