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Empty Citywest beds as IP applicants await shelter

Footage has been shared with RTÉ News that shows 48 empty beds at the Citywest transit hub which is used to house international protection applicants, as over 1,000 remain without any State-provided shelter.

The video shows a room with 24 bunk beds completely unoccupied.

RTÉ understands that scores of beds are held for those who will be offered accommodation following a “vulnerability triage”, when they present seeking international protection.

However since the figure of unaccommodated international protection applicants passed 1,000 for the first time on Friday, latest figures show just four male asylum seekers were offered accommodation after a “vulnerability triage” and 28 who were initially refused shelter were subsequently offered a space.

According to those latest figures, published yesterday, 1,022 recently arrived male international protection applicants now remain without any State-provided shelter.

RTÉ understands that the footage showing the empty beds at Citywest was filmed over the weekend and that the beds remain empty today.

On 4 December the State ceased offering State provided shelter to all new male asylum seekers citing a “severe shortage”.

Figures revealed by the Department of Integration to RTÉ News last Friday showed that there were almost 5,000 unoccupied beds contracted to the department for either asylum seekers or displaced Ukrainians, with various reasons given for these vacancies.

Nick Henderson, CEO of the Irish Refugee Council

“The situation is of huge concern to us,” Nick Henderson, CEO of the Irish Refugee Council said.

“There are people in very dire straits on the streets of Dublin but yet it seems that there are beds available in the system, we understand that government might have space or accommodation flex or capacity issues but we are in a situation of crisis.

“To see those (vacancy) figures and to see beds in Citywest is of deep concern, you could easily come to the conclusion that there is more at play here, that we are in a situation of government policy to deter people from coming to seek protection, when we have capacity that is available within the system.”

‘It’s inhumane and it’s callous’

Social Democrats TD Jennifer Whitmore told RTÉ News: “It’s absolutely disgraceful that we have over 1,000 vulnerable men on our streets at the moment, while there are empty beds lying in Citywest and other accommodation centres across the country, its inhumane and its callous and it really just goes to show that the government has not come to grips with what they actually need to do provide accommodation for those seeking refuge in the country.

“The Government has shown no urgency in dealing with this issue, for the last number of years we have seen increased numbers of people coming into the country seeking refuge and the Government is just essentially sitting on its hands.

“They keep on telling us that they’re going to be bringing a plan to Government for approval, where is that plan?

“We’ve been listening now to that story for the last year. Government needs to come to grips with this, they need to actually get that plan signed off, we need to see exactly how they are going to carry out their obligations both morally and legally when it comes to housing these asylum seekers and so we need to see that immediately.”

As of Sunday 18 February there were 2,151 vacant spaces in international protection accommodation.

The main reasons given for these vacancies were room configuration restrictions, contractual issues, maintenance and deep cleaning and ring-fencing beds to facilitate the opening and closing of accommodation centres.

As of last Friday 23 February there were 2,801 vacant bed spaces available in accommodation contracted for displaced Ukrainians.

A department spokesperson said that “due to varying room configurations and geographical location, some vacancies may take longer to fill then others given they are utilised to meet the specific requirements of individuals and family groups of Beneficiaries of Temporary Protection”.

They also said that they were “working with providers where possible to pivot vacancies to use for international protection applicants”.

“Given that they are private providers, this is not always possible,” the department said.


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