At least seven asylum seekers told there is no State accommodation available following Citywest closure

People ‘need to be aware of the fact that accommodation is not necessarily available in Ireland’, says Varadkar

At least seven men who arrived into Ireland seeking international protection were told there was no State accommodation available, with the numbers set to rise significantly.

The men arrived into Ireland on Tuesday, on the day when the Government announced that the Citywest transit hub could no longer offer emergency shelter as it was at capacity. That closure is expected to last another number of days, during which time more applicants for international protection will arrive and be told there is no available accommodation. The figures apply for Tuesday, and Wednesday’s figures will be published on Thursday.

Speaking in the Dáil, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said that Ireland can be “proud as a society as to what we’ve done in the past year”.

“There is no lack of compassion from the Government or the Irish people but there is a lack of capacity and we are doing all we can at the moment to source more accommodation.


“In the meantime, we will be prioritising people coming in here from Ukraine but also people not coming from Ukraine, children, families, vulnerable adults and of course programme refugees but we can’t guarantee accommodation for everyone that comes to the country, unannounced.”

The Department of Children has said there is a particular shortage in accommodation for single men applying for international protection. Families and children are still being offered accommodation, however.

Mr Varadkar said the Government “certainly will not turn anyone away, but we would say to people that if they are thinking of coming to Ireland and they’re in a safe country and they’re in a safe place, they have accommodation, that they need to be aware of the fact that accommodation is not necessarily available in Ireland.”

The Department of Children has advised those travelling from safe areas to defer their plans due to a severe national shortage in accommodation. This shortage could persist for weeks or even months.

Minister for Children and Integration Roderic O’Gorman also defended the Government’s decision to ask asylum seekers not to travel to Ireland due in the face of questioning from the UN Child Rights Committee in Geneva on Wednesday.

On the final day of the State’s appearance before the committee, the Government was asked why the Department of Children had tweeted such as statement this week and whether “desperate” families seeking refuge would be turned away at the border.

Mr O’Gorman said the numbers accommodated in the international protection process have climbed from about 8,000 in late 2021 to 19,000 today, along with a further 54,000 Ukrainians.

“In doing so, we’re meeting our international legal obligations and we’re also meeting our moral obligations, but at this current time we are suffering real shortages of accommodation for people arriving into the country,” he said.

“In that context, those tweets are provided to, in a fair way, make people aware that there are these challenges in terms of providing State-provided accommodation, and indicating that if they are safe that they should remain where they are.”

Meanwhile, some of the men who have arrived in Ireland have spoken about their confusion about where they will now go.

Zimbabwean national Zibusiso Moyo arrived in Dublin yesterday from Germany.

“We are desperate,” said Mr Moyo. “I just saw the videos today about the accommodation when I arrived there today. We have to sleep in the streets. I don’t know anyone here. I don’t have a choice. I knew it would be expensive, but I don’t have money for accommodation.”

A Somalian, Guhad Osman Janaa, arrived in Ireland four weeks ago and is staying in CityWest. He referred to tension in the centre over the fact that Ukrainians appeared to have got the hotel accommodation while refugees from other countries were made to sleep in the sports hall. “We are sleeping on the floor, they are sleeping in five star accommodation.”

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns is a reporter for The Irish Times

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times

Carl O'Brien

Carl O'Brien

Carl O'Brien is Education Editor of The Irish Times. He was previously chief reporter and social affairs correspondent