The Irish Integration Minister recently admitted that there is no longer any accommodation for new asylum seekers in Ireland. They are distributing tents and sleeping bags to asylum seekers who have to sleep on the streets.
On Monday (December 4) Ireland’s deputy Prime Minister Miceál Martin told reporters that the government was “very, very concerned about [the health and safety of those outside in the cold, and also about the fact that some sleeping on the streets have died in cold weather.]”
Integration Minister Roderick O’Gorman has echoed these sentiments, adding that they were doing “everything we can to avoid that.”
Martin promised that meetings were due to be held before the end of the week and that options would be discussed about how to avoid anyone dying of cold and exposure because of a lack of accommodation. However, Martin told the Irish Mirror that he didn’t “have any precise timelines.”
A government spokesperson told the Irish Mirror that the country was currently accommodating more than 100,000 people, including about 70,000 of those who have fled Ukraine and about 26,000 asylum seekers from other countries.
“Despite intensive efforts to source emergency accommodation, the Department is currently not in a position to provide accommodation to all international protection applicants due to the severe shortage,” said the spokesperson.
According to that paper, almost half of all new asylum applications come from people from Georgia, Algeria and Somalia.
The Department of Integration’s spokesperson said that despite efforts to source new accommodation, matters outside the department’s control “have resulted in offers not being progressed, and accommodation not contracted swiftly enough to meet the demand.”
According to the BBC, since January 2022, Ireland has created 10,000 additional bed spaces, but that is still not enough to meet this year’s new arrivals.
‘Drop-in services’ offered
Instead, the government is offering “drop-in day services” for asylum seekers. In the centers, the spokesperson promised there would be “hot showers, meals, and laundry services seven days a week.”
The government is also giving out tents and sleeping bags “where required.” The government is working hand in hand with two charities to provide these services to rough-sleeping asylum seekers in the capital Dublin “in the event that they are needed,” reported the Irish Mirror.
Health services will be provided to “all those in need” promised the government, and anyone with significant vulnerabilities and health issues would be prioritized for accommodation as necessary.
On Sunday, O’Gorman had already promised that families forced to sleep rough would be brought into accommodation as soon as possible.
Rises in cost of living have exacerbated the problem
Problems with accommodation in Ireland are not a particularly new phenomenon. For most of this year, various organizations and charities, as well as the government have been warning of issues and trying to find solutions. In the spring of 2023, warnings emerged regarding the termination of contracts with hotels used for accommodating asylum seekers as the summer tourist season approached.
The Irish Refugee Council warned of more problems in June. The rising cost of living has made finding and paying for accommodation in Ireland difficult for everyone who lives there. There have been numerous demonstrations throughout the year on this theme, both for those concerned about asylum seekers being left out on the streets, and also from Irish citizens who feel they are being forgotten as accommodation becomes even tighter.
This has caused resentment between the two populations and has led in some cases to demonstrations, violence and attacks towards migrants, asylum seekers and refugees who are seen by some as taking limited resources away from poorer Irish residents.