Long-awaited immigration plan will commit to avoiding use of ‘last hotel’ in a town for asylum seekers

State will for now continue to rely on hotels where more than one is operating in a locality after angry backlashes in some areas

The Government’s landmark new immigration plan will commit to avoiding the use of the “last hotel” in a town to accommodate asylum seekers.

Minister for Integration Roderic O’Gorman will bring the long-awaited plan to Cabinet today alongside measures to overhaul immigration procedures from Minister for Justice Helen McEntee. However, for the time being, the State will continue to rely on hotels where more than one is operating in a locality.

Moves to accommodate asylum seekers in a town’s only operational hotel have led to angry backlashes including at the D Hotel in Drogheda and the Racket Hall hotel in Roscrea. Local representatives and residents have complained that closing functioning amenities deprives towns of commercial income for neighbouring businesses and leaves communities with nowhere to hold events.

Far-right activists have travelled to protests held at these and other proposed accommodation centres, while the Government has been forced to scramble and back solutions such as a “community hotel” in Roscrea.


Government sources said the issue of the “last hotel” in a town being used would become less prevalent as more accommodation is brought on stream.

Mr O’Gorman’s strategy aims to address the immediate crisis and introduce longer-term reforms of the system along the lines envisaged in a previous plan to scrap the direct provision system, which has been thrown badly off course by the crisis, sources said.

The Coalition’s goal is to move away from a “total reliance” on private providers towards State-owned accommodation alongside commercial providers which will be held to higher standards. There will be an expanded programme of purchasing and construction of accommodation, as well as the use of State-owned land for modular units and conversion of unused offices for housing international protection applicants.

The intention is to publish the plan after Cabinet meets. It is thought it will come with a hefty price tag, and senior sources predicted it will not defuse tensions over immigration in the short term.

Mr O’Gorman has previously said it will be “a number of years” before enough accommodation is on stream to allow for a “steady state” in the new system, and that there will be ongoing reliance on the private sector in the interim.

Meanwhile, Ms McEntee is to seek approval to “opt in” to the EU’s Asylum and Migration pact, devised late last year.

The decision will commit Ireland to replace existing laws on international protection which sources said would represent the biggest reform of Irish immigration law in decades. It will oblige Ireland to conduct enhanced screening and security checks while also seeking to cut down on so-called “secondary movements”, which the Government believes have been a particular problem for Ireland.

It will introduce legally binding timeframes for making decisions on applications and appeals and focus on “efficient returns” for unsuccessful applicants, as well as faster processing for people coming from safe countries, arriving without or with false documents, or who have crossed borders illegally.

There will be a new border procedure to speed up processing for those unlikely to be granted asylum, as well as a commitment that will either force countries to make a financial contribution or accept asylum seekers from under-pressure countries. There will also be expanded checking of the categories of migrants who will be fingerprinted for checking against a centralised European database.

Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones

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