Government struggles to secure accommodation for asylum seekers

Government struggles to secure accommodation for asylum seekers

With the closure of the Citywest hub to asylum applicants, accommodation options are narrowing.
Picture: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

Asylum seekers will be forced to sleep on the streets as the Government struggles to get accommodation providers to take new arrivals from countries other than Ukraine.

Protests outside centres providing accommodation to non-Ukrainian arrivals have added to the difficulty in securing sufficient accommodation from private sector providers.

With the closure of the Citywest hub to asylum applicants, Government sources have admitted there are still options for Ukrainians but there is huge difficulty getting hoteliers, and other providers, to take arrivals from countries such as Somalia, Algeria, Nigeria, and Georgia. 

The difficulty is most noticeable when seeking accommodation for single men from these countries.

“The protests and some commentary at these protests are making people nervous about accommodating asylum seekers. Providers are fearful that some people protesting will cause trouble or potential damage to the property,” the source said.

Ukrainians who arrive in Ireland will continue to go to Citywest, receive their PPS numbers, and be transferred to available accommodation, which has prompted accusations of a two-tier system.

Currently, there are 830 International Protection applicants, not from Ukraine, being accommodated at Citywest but the Department of Integration has confirmed it has paused offers of accommodation to adult asylum seekers.

It will continue to provide accommodation for families with children while other arrivals will have their details taken and be contacted as soon as accommodation becomes available, effectively leaving them homeless.

Contracts with four hotels providing accommodation for non-Ukrainians are due to come to an end before July. These hotels currently provide 1,841 bed spaces for asylum seekers.

The International Protection Procurement Service (IPPS) estimates the total spend on accommodation for International Protection applicants in 2022 was €356.6m.

To date, the Department has paid out just under €550m on accommodation and related services for Ukrainians.

'Blatant discrimination'

People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy has accused the Government of “blatant discrimination” over its decision to pause the provision of accommodation for International Protection applicants at Citywest while maintaining the service for Ukrainians.

He questioned why Syrians should be forced to live on the street while Ukrainians are put up in "inadequate emergency accommodation".

New figures given to Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín show there were 19,202 people in International Protection accommodation at the end of December. 

Minister for Integration Roderic O’Gorman confirmed the average annual figure for keeping an International Protection applicant in accommodation for one year is €18,568.59.

Mr Tóibín described the spending as “extraordinary” and called for transparency on the private companies involved and their contracts with the State.

He said the process for granting people asylum needs to be speeded up and a determination reached on each application within a six-month period which would be “more humane” and “save money for the taxpayer".

Government TD Cathal Crowe, meanwhile, has made a complaint about Mr O’Gorman’s lack of communication about accommodation for asylum seekers.

Mr Crowe said nobody from the department has engaged with people in Shannon, Co Clare, about potentially hundreds of asylum seekers being placed in a local warehouse facility, claiming there is “a complete lack of information” which is leading to “far-right groups exploiting the situation”.

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