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Tents were set on fire on Friday evening.

Irish Refugee Council has 'grave concerns' for safety of asylum seekers living in tents

The council said it is “no longer tenable” for those living in tents to not be offered supports ‘because of their status and country of origin”.

THE CEO OF the Irish Refugee Council has said that the charity has “grave concerns” for the safety of asylum seekers sleeping rough in Dublin city. 

Nick Henderson’s comments come after a series of anti-immigration protests have taken place on Sandwith Street in the city centre, which culminated in tents and furniture belonging to asylum seekers being set on fire in the street on Friday night. 

Speaking on RTÉ Radio 1 today, Henderson said that there has been a “clear abdication of statutory responsibilities” by the Department of Housing when it comes to providing accommodation and reception services to asylum seekers arriving into the country. 

Last week there were  over 580 newly arrived asylum seekers without accommodation provided by the Government. 

In recent weeks, asylum seekers have been living in tents outside of the International Protection Office, and on the surrounding streets. 

Henderson from the Irish Refugee Council said that they are doing so because people feel they have “safety in numbers”. 

“In effect, the system is broken down over recent months, since the middle of January, and people, particularly single men, but sometimes couples and two or three single women as well,  have not been provided with accommodation,” he said. 

Henderson added that the High Court found that it is unlawful for the State to not provide accommodation to asylum seekers, three weeks ago in a case that was brought by a law centre. 

“Many people have had to fend for themselves. There are ad hoc supports in the city through different organisations but they are already very stretched,” he added. 

The Irish Refugee Council has written to the Department of Housing asking it to instruct local authorities to expand their support for homelessness services so they can assist asylum seekers and other people sleeping rough. 

“We haven’t had a response to that letter,” Henderson said. 

A group called the Revolutionary Housing League, which is made up of activists, has said that it has sourced “alternative accommodation” for the asylum seekers who had their makeshift shelter burned down on Friday night. 

Henderson said that it should not be the case that non-official organisations have had to step in to provide asylum seekers with housing, but that these groups have had to “fill the gap”. 

The Irish Refugee Council is now calling for the Department to offer asylum seekers sleeping rough temporary accommodation, as it has fears for their “immediate safety”. 

“They are being targeted by the far right and their supporters,” Henderson said, adding that these people now have to be “brought in off the street”. 

He also said that Dublin homelessness services need to be given extra support to extend services to people sleeping in tents. 

Henderson said that it is “no longer tenable” for asylum seekers sleeping rough to not be offered supports “because of their status and their country of origin”. 

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