Integration challenges will ‘potentially grow’, Ministers warned, amid migrant housing issues

Government considering time limit to State accommodation for new arrivals under temporary protection

Ministers have been warned that challenges with integration arising from the migrant accommodation crisis are likely to continue and potentially grow.

The warning is contained in internal papers drawn up for the Coalition’s Cabinet sub-committee on accommodation and support for Ukrainian refugees, given to Ministers earlier this month.

The papers outline a proposed change in the approach to housing those fleeing the war, which is being considered by civil servants in the Department of the Taoiseach and the Department of Integration.

The officials warn that “social cohesion/integration challenges [are] likely to continue and potentially grow” amid ongoing pressure to accommodate more people seeking protection here.


While no political decision on the next steps has yet been taken, the papers outline plans by officials to overhaul the system which has been put under unprecedented pressure by the arrival of more than 90,000 people fleeing the war, some 73,500 of whom are now being accommodated by the State.

As The Irish Times reported last week, among the options under consideration is to introduce time limits on State-supported accommodation for new arrivals who are permitted to work, live and claim benefits in the EU under the bloc’s temporary protection directive.

The ongoing scale of arrivals, allied to EU plans to extend the directive to March 2025, has led officials to make a renewed effort to overhaul the accommodation system.

It also outlines how new arrivals, once processed, would be transferred to “welcome centres” with integration supports. Once an initial time period elapses, they would then be moved to a “limited supply of state-developed accommodation” such as modular homes for vulnerable people, pledged accommodation, or privately sourced accommodation.

The paper outlines plans to advance a memo for the Coalition, with senior officials now set to examine policy issues such as the time-bound provision of accommodation before the Government makes a decision.

A slide shown to Ministers suggests that for beneficiaries of temporary protection already in the Republic, contracted serviced accommodation — which includes hotels — may be phased out, but Government sources said this was not under consideration.

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The paper outlines a litany of problems with the current approach, which has seen hotels, guesthouses and other forms of accommodation booked en masse for those fleeing the war. It says there have been “significant policy and operational challenges across Government” arising from this. And it criticises some of the shortcomings of the model, saying it is “unsustainable and unsuitable”. A new model is now required, the officials advise, with a “clearer policy underpinning for a medium/longer-term approach”.

It also says the current model has raised “equity concerns vis-á-vis Irish and EU citizens and other migrant cohorts” and that amid increased pressure on services, it is “not possible to manage a planned distribution given accommodation challenges”.

The arrival of people fleeing the war has come alongside an increase in people seeking asylum under the conventional international protection channel, which has put pressure on both systems and also led to political fallout and sporadic protests at accommodation centres.

Minister for Integration Roderic O’Gorman is to bring a revised white paper to cabinet next month setting out a longer-term plan to end the use of direct provision for asylum seekers. An initial plan to phase out the use of the accommodation type was thrown off course by the migrant crisis.

Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times