Jennifer Whitmore TD

The Government’s disastrous handling of the international protection accommodation crisis will come under increased scrutiny when a Social Democrats’ motion is debated in the Dáil next week (Thursday, March 21).

Deputy Jennifer Whitmore, the party’s spokesperson on integration, said:

“In recent weeks, we have seen growing numbers of international protection applicants forced to sleep in tents in the shadow of the International Protection Office on Mount Street in Dublin – the very institution that is supposed to be helping them secure accommodation.

“The shameful spectacle of more than 150 tents crammed along streets, a mere five-minute walk from the Dáil, is a daily reminder of this Government’s failure to get to grips with this issue. I don’t think we ever believed that we would witness scenes like this in Ireland.

“The absence of the most basic facilities, such as toilets or running water, is contributing to a growing humanitarian and public health crisis, with many asylum seekers reported to be suffering from skin and respiratory conditions. This is hardly surprising given their appalling living conditions.

“There is no justification for people having to sleep on the streets in freezing and wet conditions when there is capacity in the system to provide them with appropriate accommodation.

“The Government must now publish its audit of IPAS and Ukrainian accommodation, identifying locations where beds are vacant, details of how long they have been vacant and the reasons why they are lying empty.

“There must be an explanation as to why an audit of accommodation capacity – believed to number at least 500 beds and possibly several thousand – was only completed this week when the State has been failing in its legal duty to provide accommodation for many months.

“As a matter of urgency, the Minister must now publish his revised White Paper detailing the Government’s short, medium and long-term plan to deal with accommodation for asylum seekers and expediate plans to provide the long-awaited six State-run reception and integration centres.

“The Government must ensure the international protection system is adequately resourced so that applicants receive decisions in a timely and efficient manner. It is also essential that there are adequate procurement controls and enhanced transparency when contracts for State-funded accommodation for asylum seekers are being awarded.

“The Government’s approach to this accommodation crisis is characterised by a lack of humanity towards vulnerable asylum seekers. It is scandalous that more than 1,200 international protection applicants across the country are currently without accommodation.

“The Government must acknowledge that its failure to provide essential accommodation and services to international protection applicants is unlawful and take urgent steps to stop this crisis from escalating further.”

March 15, 2024

Full text of Soc Dems’ motion here

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