Refugees seeking international protection who arrived into Ireland earlier this week have now been accommodated.
The Government announced on Tuesday that it could no longer provide shelter for those seeking international protection because of pressure on the system.
According to the Department of Justice, the numbers seeking international protection in the State was 1,142 between the start of the new year and Thursday, January 26th. The numbers decreased from 362 in the first week of January to 210 this week but, with more than 70,000 refugees already in the country, most of them from Ukraine, the situation in recent weeks has been critical.
Minister of State for Integration Joe O’Brien said on Saturday morning that the 55 people who arrived between Tuesday and Thursday and were homeless have now been found temporary accommodation.
He stressed, however, that “overall we are in a space of a few weeks where it is very tight”.
He said the Department of Integration is “negotiating with dozens of parties – private players and public agencies” to convince them to offer up temporary accommodation “so we can at least provide people who come here looking for protection with shelter”.
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He warned, though, that there are no guarantees that people seeking international protection who arrive in Ireland in the coming days will also receive accommodation.
Mr O’Brien was speaking at the launch in Dublin’s Tara Building of Tight Spaces, a project by children in the direct provision system in which they discuss why they fled their countries of origin and their lives in Ireland.
Mr O’Brien believes the subject is “particularly topical as we need to grow understanding of people who are in the international protection process”.
Mr O’Brien described those protesting against people seeking international protection as a “very small minority” and that the majority of people “do empathise and do understand that people are fleeing situations of oppression, of war and the human rights situation is difficult”.
On Saturday afternoon, anti-immigration protesters blocked traffic outside the RDS in the Ballsbridge area of Dublin for a time.
“It is fair that people have questions about the resourcing of public services,” Mr O’Brien said.
“What we are seeing are minority groups crossing the line in terms of [what they are] saying about people who are coming here. The majority of people understand the importance of offering safety and protection.”
Irish Refugee Council chief executive Nick Henderson said the situation facing asylum seekers at present is “extremely alarming and unprecedented”.
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Mr Henderson warned that it could lead to a “humanitarian crisis in the form of large scale homelessness”.