A migrants’ rights organisation has described the possibility of newly arriving asylum seekers having to sleep on the streets as “a new low” for Ireland.
Urgent, co-ordinated action was needed from the Government, not just the Department of Children, John Lannon, the chief executive of Doras, told Newstalk Breakfast.
Mr Lannon said he had a lot of sympathy for the Government and that the Department of Children had done a tremendous amount of work but added they had been in “crisis response mode” since last February.
Ireland had a legal and moral obligation to people arriving in Ireland seeking asylum, fleeing war and persecution, and every accommodation option needed to be explored, he said.
Fianna Fáil TD for Clare Cathal Crowe said capacity mapping should be done to determine where there was accommodation, healthcare and school places available.
The numbers arriving could be managed better if it was known where there was available capacity, he said. “We need boots on the ground to determine the parts of the country where there is capacity.”
Mr Lannon also called on the Government to speed up modular housing, to use vacant State lands to build new accommodation and to refurbish old barracks and buildings such as convents for use.
A new permanent reception centre should be built in the long term, but in the short term every available accommodation option should be followed up, he said.
The refugee processing centre at Citywest is likely to close for new arrivals within a matter of days, Minister for Integration Roderic O’Gorman has said.
“There is a very real risk that we won’t be able to accommodate everyone”, he told RTÉ Radio’s News at One on January 19th. Families and vulnerable people will be prioritised but there are “difficult weeks ahead,” he said.
“It’s becoming increasingly difficult to secure new accommodation” to meet the needs of new arrivals, explained the Minister.
Ministers are preparing for a scenario whereby the same number of refugees may arrive into the country this year as the nearly 70,000 that came in 2022.