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Record number of asylum seekers without State shelter

The number of new asylum seekers without State provided shelter has passed 600 for the first time since the introduction of Direct Provision in March 2000.

It is a milestone that has been reached just six weeks after the State ceased offering accommodation to all eligible new arrivals on 4 December amid a “severe shortage”.

According to the latest figures published by the Department of Integration, there are currently 601 recently arrived International Protection Applicants without any State-provided accommodation.

The highest number reached before this was 593, and this was reached on 3 May last year, when the State had similarly ceased offering accommodation to all new arrivals. But it took 14 weeks for the number to climb to that level.

Between 24 January and 15 June last, figures provided by the Department of Integration showed that a total of 1,542 asylum seekers were not initially offered accommodation when they first presented.

But rolling offers of sourced shelter to those who presented on a first come first served basis meant the numbers unaccommodated never reached 600.

An analysis of the figures provided by the Department shows that not only are more people being left without accommodation more quickly this time around, but that fewer are subsequently being offered places.

Since 4 December, the Government has continued to provide accommodation to women and children, although it has acknowledged that there is a scarcity of available accommodation for this group too.

Accommodation centres that were originally said to be for male asylum seekers have recently been redesignated, which is what happened in Ballinrobe in Co Mayo and in Carlow town recently, where there were protests.

JJ Gannon’s hotel in Ballinrobe was initially earmarked to house 50 men

A hotel that is now accommodating families in Roscrea in Co Tipperary has also been the site of protests since news of its intended use as International Protection Service Accommodation broke last Thursday.

Since 4 December, 88 men who were deemed “vulnerable” when assessed were offered accommodation.

Then, of the 688 men who were initially not offered accommodation when they initially presented seeking International Protection in the past six weeks, 87 were subsequently offered a place when one became available.

Six weeks after the Government ceased offering accommodation to all new asylum seekers in January of last year, the total number initially turned away without somewhere to stay was lower at 538 on 8 March 2023, while the number subsequently offered a place was significantly higher at 321, leaving 217 without State provided shelter on that date.

Weekly payments

This time weekly payments for asylum seekers who are not offered accommodation have been increased by €75 to €113.50.

They are also provided with the details of homeless day services.

In December the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission brought proceedings in its own name before the High Court seeking to address what it called “the State’s failure to provide for the basic needs, including shelter, of people recently arriving in Ireland and seeking asylum”.

It is the first time the Commission has used this legal power since its establishment.

Last April the High Court ruled that the State’s failure to provide an Afghan asylum seeker with “material reception conditions”, including accommodation, shelter, food and basic hygiene was unlawful.

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