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Irish Mirror
Irish Mirror
Louise Burne

O'Gorman pleads with Ministers for 'large halls' for refugee camp beds amid chronic accommodation shortage

Integration Minister Roderic O’Gorman has asked his Cabinet colleagues to provide "urgent assistance" to find large halls where camp beds and sleeping bags can be used by refugees.

The Green Party Minister sent a letter to all other ministers warning that there does not appear to be accommodation "on the horizon" for International Protection Seekers.

The Citywest Transit Hub closed last week due to capacity constraints. As a result, several asylum seekers have been left with no place to stay.

READ MORE - Protestors outside politicians' homes and refugee centres could face jail time under new legislation

In his letter to his Cabinet colleagues, seen by the Irish Mirror, Minister O’Gorman said that the current number of arrivals is "unprecedented".

"Ireland is now accommodating over 74,000 refugees in State-funded accommodation, compared to 7,500 at this time last year," he said.

"As of February 1 2023, this unprecedented figure includes over 53,700 Beneficiaries of Temporary Protection fleeing Ukraine, and almost 20,000 IPAs [International Protection Applicants]."

The Minister said that the Department of Integration is "urgently seeking facilities in all vacant buildings that could be used to accommodate people and which are available immediately".

Mr O’Gorman continued: "What is needed are large halls where camp beds, mattresses [and] sleeping bags could be set out for people in Local Authority Rest Centre configurations.

"The sort of facilities that are envisaged are sports centres, which have access to showers, but also conference facilities, arts centres, student leisure centres, any other large buildings that are deemed safe for use by Local Authorities taking into account fire safety and building regulations.

"Facilities can be located anywhere in the country."

Minister O’Gorman called for large buildings that can accommodate between 50 and 100 people or more. The buildings would be used for the "short to medium term".

He also advised that the Department of Integration will provide facilities management and Non-Governmental Organisation support in the buildings.

"I would ask for any assistance you, your Department and your wider sectors can give in providing these buildings for immediate use," he added.

Minister O’Gorman has asked his Cabinet colleagues several times for assistance in providing accommodation for refugees and asylum seekers.

However, there have been some frustrations at the lack of properties forthcoming, the Irish Mirror understands.

It was confirmed earlier this week that 120 International Protection Seekers will be housed at Colum Barracks in Mullingar in the coming weeks. They will be accommodated here for a short period until more appropriate accommodation becomes available. This led to protests in the area.

The Department of Integration, meanwhile, is using just one of 35 buildings that it acquired to end direct provision for Ukrainian refugees.

A spokesperson for the Department told The Mirror that it is hoped more of these properties will come into use from the second quarter of 2023.


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