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Govt’s IP policy ‘absolutely abhorrent’

The Government has been criticised over its handling of accommodation for International Protection Applicants.

Around 120 tents currently surround the International Protection Office in Dublin city centre, occupied by between 180 and 200 men, according to the Irish Refugee Council.

Several of the men there have scabies, while others have respiratory conditions.

A group of volunteers called Social Rights Ireland have said they are now overwhelmed and have called on the Government to step in.

Social Democrats TD Jennifer Whitmore Whitmore described the Government’s approach to the IP system as “absolutely abhorrent”, saying there has not been “any action” to try to resolve the issue.

She told RTÉ’s Drivetime: “We’re in a situation where the Government policy is to essentially put these men on the street where there is no sanitation, no running water, they’re toileting in the street because they’ve nowhere else to go.

“I think there are beds (available) – 5,000 empty beds in the IPAS and Ukrainian refugee system. There are around 2,100 (beds) in the IPAs system.

“I would really like to see the minister (Minister of Integration Roderic O’Gorman) take control of the situation, to be transparent about the amount of beds are there, what measures he has taken in the instance of beds in the Ukraine system – are they going to be transferred over to the IPAs system?

“The conditions those men are living in are absolutely disgraceful and I would have never thought we’d have seen the likes on our streets.”

Tents in the Mount Street area of Dublin

In a statement to Drivetime, the Department of Integration said: “The Department is endeavouring to provide additional accommodation in the current very challenging circumstances, and is working with state agencies and private providers to maximise the accommodation available. The Department is operating in a context where it is accommodating approximately 100,000 people, compared to 8,300 at the beginning of 2022.

“For those who are not offered accommodation on arrival, an increased expense payment is provided, and drop-in day services are available, where International Protection (IP) applicants can access facilities including hot showers, meals and laundry services

“The Department has a vulnerability triage process in place for those who are rough sleeping, and in recent days has accelerated this; however, this is contingent on numbers arriving as well as accommodation available.

“Notwithstanding the current challenges, the Department will continue to make every effort to support those seeking International Protection.”

‘Really difficult conditions’

The CEO of the Irish Refugee Council has described the conditions International Protection Applicants are living in in Dublin city centre as “really horrendous”.

Nick Henderson told RTÉ’s Drivetime that there are around 120 tents currently surrounding the International Protection Office, including Mount Street and Grattan Court.

He said: “People are living in the tents and in really difficult conditions. There is a large pile of refuse where people have had to put their belongings because of the rain.

“There is a real absence of support there, particularly in terms of no toiletry facilities – people without access to toilets. Overnight people have to walk across the city to use the toilet.

“They would have to use the street or just not use the toilet at all. We worked with one person who was suffering from constipation because they didn’t want to go to the toilet, didn’t feel able to go on the street.”

Mr Henderson added that his organisation believes there are around 1,200 IP applicants without accommodation in total.

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