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Govt doing all it can to house asylum seekers

The Government is doing everything it can to put a roof over the heads of International Protection applicants, but women and children must be prioritised, the Minister for Justice has said.

Helen McEntee said she would not describe decisions not to house men in some locations where local protests took place as a reversal by the Government.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, she said: “There’s not a single one of us that wants to see a person on the street in a tent or without a roof over their heads. But we have always said that we will prioritise women and families, but it’s becoming more and more challenging to house people in general.”

The minister said the Government is doing all it can to provide accommodation to IP applicants, but said it is a fast moving environment and “those of us who are working on it on a daily basis can say that it changes literally on a daily basis.”

Last week, a protest was held outside a former hotel in Ballinrobe, Co Mayo, which was to be used to house 50 male asylum seekers.

Protest was held outside a former hotel in Ballinrobe over plans to house 50 male IP applicants

The Department of Integration then said a decision was taken to make the building available to families in acute need of shelter.

Ms McEntee said the Government has been very clear that women and children must be prioritised, which does mean “that there are male applicants where we cannot provide housing. And I don’t want that situation to be the case. I don’t think any of us want that”.

The department has also confirmed that families are to be housed at a property in Carlow, where a number of protesters were present outside the building throughout yesterday.

Local representatives had been told on Tuesday that 50 men would be accommodated at the former Capuchin friary on Dublin Street in Carlow town.

Speaking on the same programme, Fianna Fáil TD for Carlow Kilkenny Jennifer Murnane O’Connor said she believes that families should be prioritised.

She said the first information from the department on plans for the building was a briefing document about IP applicants and that following that she found out that 50 applicants would be housed at the former friary.

Ms Murnane O’Connor said she received a lot of phone calls from local people who expressed concern at the plans and said people “really just wanted more communication”.

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