The Government will move away from the “last minute” sourcing of accommodation for international protection applicants, with plans for large scale state-owned centres which will go to the Cabinet in the coming weeks.
Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said there will be a shift to more medium or longer-term planning to house people arriving into the country.
He said Minister for Integration Roderic O’Gorman will bring proposals to the Cabinet in the coming weeks for the purchase of large-scale reception centres, similar to the one already in place in Dublin’s City West.
He said some locations have already been selected but that the process “will take time”.
Speaking to RTÉ’s This Week, Mr Ryan said the number of international protection applicants entering the country in the past two years has been “unprecedented” but that Ireland will continue to provide accommodation because “we cannot close our doors, we cannot say to the rest of the world: Ireland is full”.
However, he said: “We do need to switch away from relying on this large number of small and emergency facilities from the private sector towards using certain number of centres that will be better for everyone because they won’t be on such a needs-must basis at the last minute.”
He said the Government will consider supports for communities and work on communication to counter what he said were many misunderstandings of Ireland’s obligations under international law.
“We don’t blockade, and we don’t burn,” he said.
Mr Ryan said: “We need a fundamental understanding that in managing this, we cannot simply shut the doors and say: Ireland is full.
“We do recognise that we have to help communities where people are coming in and we have to create a system which is not based on an emergency response.”
He also denied the Government caved to pressure from protesters by announcing that families, rather than single men, would be housed in particular locations where demonstrations had taken place.
“The need changes on a week-by-week basis. The key challenge we have at this moment in time is the ability to house families. We do have to provide accommodation for families,” he added.
Speaking on the same programme, Labour Party Ivana Bacik said no one has a right to veto where people are given accomodation.
However, she added that the Government must engage with communities and address legitimate concerns about capacity issues that are raised.
Ms Bacik reiteriated calls for Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to deliver a national address to remind people of the benefits of inward migration and to properly inform communities across the country so that “sinister actors do not exploit a vaccum”.
“It’s about engagement,” she said.
“Everyone has the right to peaceful protest”, she said, but added there can be “no justification” for blockades or obstruction.
She said large urban centres need to be stepped up and that state-owned premises like Baggot Street Hospital should be converted for use.