‘Genuine risk’ State will be unable to house women and children seeking asylum

‘Genuine risk’ State will be unable to house women and children seeking asylum

There is a “genuine risk” that the State may soon be unable to accommodate women and children and families seeking international protection here due to the repeated arson attacks, the Government has admitted.

Currently, the State is unable to accommodate all male international protection applicants (IPAs) due to a severe shortage of accommodation. However, the Department of Integration has said the repeated torching of buildings earmarked for refugees now poses a risk to accommodating women and children.

Since 2018, there have been at least 25 arson attacks on accommodation either correctly or incorrectly linked to IPAs, six of which were carried out so far this year alone, with a property in Leixlip, Co Kildare, becoming the latest target last Wednesday. 

The Government and Gardaí have been coming under increasing pressure to stem the attacks. To date, 10 arrests have been made related to arson incidents, but only three have related to actual attacks on buildings in use by, or earmarked for, asylum seekers.

Although the department is still receiving offers of accommodation from private providers, it said it is worried that the increased number of attacks may have a “detrimental effect” on the volume of offers required to meet the current unprecedented demand. 

As of Friday, a record 834 male international protection applicants are now without State-provided accommodation.

“The State is currently unable to accommodate all adult male applicants, and there is a genuine risk that the State may not be able to provide accommodation for many others seeking international protection if the threat of arson negatively impacts the market,” said a spokesperson.

The department also said it is now telling potential accommodation providers that they need to provide “sufficient security” to protect their properties against attack due to a “heightened level of interest”.

Chief executive of Limerick-based NGO Doras, John Lannon, said it would be “unconscionable” to even consider the possibility of women and children being without State-provided accommodation, adding it would leave the Government in “even greater breach of their obligations”.

At an event in Cork on Monday, Tánaiste Micheál Martin said while he has no individual meeting planned with Justice Minister Helen McEntee on the arson attacks issue this week, he and his fellow ministers will be addressing it at Cabinet.

“We have to review all aspects of the campaign of arson that’s under way, which is unprecedented in the country, and which is risking life and limb and damaging property and in a democracy,” he said. “That is unacceptable.

We have to make sure that all resources of the State now are focused on stopping this and also dealing very robustly with those who are breaking the law.”

Meanwhile, the Government has confirmed it is to further crack down on the 60% of people who try to seek asylum here without a proper basis for doing so.

Quicker processing times of asylum applications will clamp down on people who do not meet international protection criteria and instead are coming here for economic reasons, Tánaiste Michéal Martin and Integration Minister Roderic O’Gorman have said.

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