State plans to house 300 asylum seekers in Galway city site, says Minister

Internal briefing states asylum seekers to be placed into refurbished building in Ballybrit industrial site

Roderic O'Gorman said local representatives had been given a detailed briefing on the plans. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

There are plans to house 300 asylum seekers in a building in an industrial estate on the outskirts of Galway city, Minister for Equality Roderic O’Gorman has said.

The site is to be the latest property repurposed as an emergency accommodation centre, as the Government continues to struggle to source shelter for asylum seekers.

An internal briefing for local TDs outlined asylum seekers would be placed in a “repurposed and refurbished building” in Ballybrit, around 4km north of Galway city.

The asylum seekers placed into the accommodation would be male international protection applicants, it said.

READ MORE

The property had capacity for 302 people in 62 rooms across two blocks, the briefing stated.

The document said it was “not possible to say with certainty what the length of stay will be”, given the pressures on State-provided accommodation for Ukrainian refugees and asylum seekers.

The Department of Equality hoped to sign a two-year contract to use the site as accommodation, it said.

The building had a valid fire certificate, as well as fire alarms throughout the common walking areas, it said.

The State has been under pressure to house more than 60,000 Ukrainian refugees and over 20,000 asylum seekers, following the Russian invasion of Ukraine and an increase in arrivals of asylum seekers from other countries.

Recent weeks have seen a renewed effort to source additional accommodation, after the number of asylum seekers unable to be offered shelter surpassed 500, leaving many sleeping rough in Dublin city.

Speaking on Tuesday, Mr O’Gorman said department officials had been engaging with local politicians and Galway City Council, in advance of asylum seekers being moved into the Ballybrit property.

“We’ve done a detailed briefing in terms of what’s planned for this particular location. And if more questions come up, we can obviously respond to them in detail as well,” he told RTÉ's News at One.

Last week three sites in Dublin were lined up to take significant numbers of asylum seekers, in new accommodation centres in Santry, Dún Laoghaire and Clondalkin.

Opposition from locals in Inch, Co Clare led to a tension standoff and blockade of a road after more than 30 asylum seekers were moved into accommodation beside a former hotel in the rural area.

Department figures show the number of “emergency” accommodation centres for asylum seekers increased from 28 to 107 last year.

The number of asylum seekers in the direct provision system more than doubled from about 9,000 people to more than 23,000 people in State-run or leased accommodation.

The figures were released in response to a parliamentary question from Independent TD Catherine Connolly.

Jack Power

Jack Power

Jack Power is acting Europe Correspondent of The Irish Times