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No ‘spare beds’ available for asylum seekers

Minister for Integration Roderic O’Gorman has told the Dáil that the lack of accommodation for 1,100 asylum seekers is “extremely serious”.

The minister said that, over the weekend, his department was “able to provide a very basic, a very emergency short-term response to about 150 individuals”.

“But that wasn’t a sustainable housing solution,” he added.

Following a sharp drop in temperatures and widespread snow last week, the Department of Integration provided temporary accommodation to those who were rough sleeping at a number of locations across the capital, some of which was night-time only accommodation.

Minister O’Gorman said his department continues to work to find accommodation, “but there aren’t spare beds available”.

He was responding to People Before Profit-Solidarity TD Paul Murphy who condemned the Government’s “cruel” policy, and said that events over the weekend demonstrated that there are beds available when the Government decides to find them.

On 23 February, RTÉ News reported that figures released by the Department of Integration showed that, as of 18 February, there were 2,151 empty beds in the International Protection accommodation system and, as of 23 February, there were 2,801 empty beds contracted for displaced Ukrainians.

RTÉ News also reported the reasons the department gave as to why these beds were not in use, citing room configurations, contractual issues, deep cleaning and maintenance and the ring-fencing of rooms as centres open and close as the reasons given for the 2,000+ empty beds in the International Protection system.

On 4 March, the Department of Integration confirmed in writing to RTÉ News that its reporting on these vacancy figures was accurate.

Earlier this week, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he was very concerned that minors seeking asylum have been forced to sleep on the streets.

The comments came after the State’s child and family agency Tusla said unaccompanied International Protection applicants claiming to be under the age of 18 are referred by Department of Justice officials to its team for separated children seeking International Protection.

“An assessment is carried out by Tusla social workers to assess the eligibility of the applicant for services under the Child Care Act 1991. The intake eligibility assessment allows Tusla to establish if the person is a child in need of care and protection.”

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