20 September 2018 - The Irish Refugee Council is deeply concerned that people seeking asylum are not being accommodated due to a shortage of space in the direct provision system. The Department of Justice has confirmed to RTÉ that, in the last two weeks, at least twenty people were told there were no beds for them.

CEO of the Irish Refugee Council, Nick Henderson said

“The people affected were not offered alternative accommodation or given any information regarding homeless services or emergency accommodation. Effectively, they have been left destitute to fend for themselves on the streets. This is a clear breach of EU and Irish law.”

“We are working with some individuals affected who are extremely vulnerable and struggling to find basic shelter. They have simply been given an email address to write to and check with the Department of Justice if a bed has become available. There is no system in place to ensure that people don’t fall through the cracks entirely.”

Figures released by the Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) (the Department of Justice body responsible for this issue) have shown a steady reduction of capacity within direct provision since 2016, making the current crisis both foreseeable and preventable. In July 2016 capacity reached 80%. By July 2018 it was 97%.  RIA’s policy is to maintain a buffer of 10% capacity in the system in order to accommodate any sudden increase in arrivals. This 10% buffer was reached first in April 2017 and capacity has been reducing ever since, meaning that the State has been in breach of its own policy for well over a year, the result of which is not being able to meet the housing needs of people seeking international protection.

Mr Henderson said,

“The situation in direct provision is made worse by the long delays which continue to make the asylum process arduous and painful for applicants. The average wait for an interview is 19 months. At the other end of the process, people who have received their status are unable to move out of direct provision due to the current crisis in housing – there are around 600 people in that situation.

“In July Ireland signed up to an EU law which sets down minimum requirements for accommodating people seeking asylum. It is very disappointing to see those minimum standards breached immediately by the failure to even accommodate people. Not only are we disappointed that this foreseeable situation has been allowed to happen, but a response is completely lacking from the Government. A crisis has been allowed to develop and we are seeing no urgency to tackle it. In the meantime, the human cost is people seeking asylum are forced onto the streets.”

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Caroline Reid, Communications Officer, 0858585510

Notes to Editors