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‘Additional capacity’ for asylum seekers this week

Minister for Integration Roderic O’Gorman has said “additional capacity” will be available this week to accommodate asylum seekers.

It comes as more than 100 tents are now pitched on the Grand Canal in Dublin, stretching along one bank of the canal from Baggot Street Bridge to Wilton Place.

Minister O’Gorman told RTÉ News: “We will have additional capacity available across this week. And we will be working hard with other government agencies to ensure we can provide offers to those currently sleeping rough on the ground now that they’re here.”

Asked if that meant another clearance operation along the Grand Canal, he said he would be working with agencies to make sure accommodation could be offered.

‘Alternative accommodation’

Minister of State Jennifer Carroll MacNeill said the Government is attempting to move International Protection applicants to “more sustainable, alternative accommodation”.

“The reality is we can’t allow tents build up where there are no sanitation facilities, where there are no good health facilities,” Ms Carroll MacNeill said.

She added: “So, we are trying to move that and clear that to a more sustainable, alternative accommodation. That’s taking a little time but that is the plan and that is what’s going to happen.”

The current encampment pictured along the Grand Canal

The encampment began on the evening of Thursday, 9 May, when around 26 tents were pitched between McCartney Bridge and Leeson Street Bridge on the same day that other tents were cleared from elsewhere along the Grand Canal.

The encampment was mostly asylum seekers who have been given tents by agencies due to an absence of State accommodation.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Today with Claire Byrne, Ms Carroll MacNeill said “numbers do keep coming”.

“We’ve created about 4,000 beds since January for International Protection applicants, but the numbers do keep coming. It’s a constant challenge to manage it. But we are trying to create bigger sites away from it.”

Tánaiste Micheál Martin last week said it is expected that Thornton Hall will be ready to accommodate asylum seekers in four to six weeks’ time.

The Department of Integration also confirmed that tented accommodation for asylum seekers will be provided at the north Dublin site.

The tents would be pitched in a part of the site that is already “serviced”. This includes toilets, sanitation facilities, along with kitchens and eating areas.

The department said that it was working with the Irish Prison Service and the Department of Justice to use a portion of the 160-acre site for this emergency accommodation.

Clonmel site attack

Integration minister Roderic O’Gorman has expressed his concern about an attack on security staff at a site in Clonmel in Co Tipperary which has been earmarked for modular homes for refugees.

The Minister described it as an “attack on people engaged in their lawful business”.

He said that the modular programme working in conjunction between his Department and the OPW had been very successful.

“They’re good quality at homes, they’re homes that I think we can learn from in terms of the wider rollout of social and affordable housing by local authorities all over the country. Again, these attacks don’t represent the vast majority of people in our country in terms of providing accommodation.”

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