Ireland offering asylum seekers tents amid acute housing shortage | Refugees

Ireland has run out of accommodation for asylum seekers and is offering tents, sleeping bags and extra money to new arrivals who face sleeping on the streets.

The International Protection Accommodation Service, a government agency, was unable to offer proper shelter to dozens of people this week amid a severe housing shortage.

The government expressed deep concern as at least 32 asylum seekers – all men – faced the prospect of sleeping rough in cold, wet, windy conditions. Dozens more are expected to arrive this week.

Roderic O’Gorman, Ireland’s minister for integration, said authorities were working with homeless organisations to offer basic services. In addition to tents and sleeping bags, newly arrived asylum seekers that are not accommodated will receive a weekly payment of €113.50 (£97.15), a €75 increase on the usual €38.50 offered.

O’Gorman said his department hoped to source additional accommodation in coming weeks. “We have line of sight to some additional accommodation – some coming online before Christmas and some coming online after Christmas and we will look to add more and consistently look to add more,” he said, adding that asylum seekers who were left on the streets may sue the state.

Ireland is accommodating more than 100,000 refugees, about three-quarters from Ukraine. The influx has coincided with an acute housing crisis that has driven up rents and homelessness and fuelled anti-immigrant sentiment. A riot last month wrecked parts of central Dublin.

Micheál Martin, the tánaiste, or deputy prime minister, said the government was “very concerned” about refugees sleeping rough and said the state would do all it could to meet its legal and international obligations.

A similar crisis unfolded in spring when overflowing hotels, reception centres and other lodgings left several hundred asylum seekers in tents, and facing a backlash from protesters who chanted “Ireland for the Irish” and “You’re not welcome here”.

Rallies against proposed refugee centres have spread across Dublin and the rest of Ireland in recent years, with far-right groups linking new arrivals to crime.

Michael McDowell, a senator and former tánaiste, said Ireland needed a “mature national conversation” about immigration and asylum. “A few months ago, the phrase ‘Ireland is full’ was derided as crypto-fascist dog whistling. But now, we are struggling very unsuccessfully to cope with the realities of a collective failure at national and EU level to deal with economic migration issues,” he wrote in the Irish Times on Wednesday.

“Populism will thrive on a widespread perception of failure to confront ‘unsustainability’ at home and abroad in relation to migration. This issue is not going to disappear.”

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