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State paying hotels and guesthouses €462,000 per week to accommodate asylum seekers

€18 million was spent on emergency accommodation for asylum seekers in the first nine months of 2019.

File photo
File photo
Image: Shutterstock/slonme

THE STATE HAS paid hotels and guesthouses an average of over €460,000 per week to the end of September this year to house the soaring numbers of asylum seekers in emergency accommodation.

According to new figures provided by Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan, the spend on emergency accommodation from January to the end of September totals €18 million – or an average of €462,046 per week.

Underlining the increasing use of emergency accommodation by the International Protection Accommodation Services (IPAS), just €945,370 was spent in the final quarter of last year.

In a written Dáil reply to Fianna Fáil’s Justice spokesperson Jim O’Callaghan, Flanagan stated that there are currently 1,453 applicants residing in 35 emergency accommodation locations around the country.

Flanagan said his department does not disclose the specific location of emergency accommodation centres in order to protect the identity of international protection applicants.

Flanagan told O’Callaghan: “Due to an unexpected rise in applications – up 53% in the first nine months of this year – the 38 existing accommodation centres, which offer accommodation, food, utilities and a suite of State services, have reached capacity.”

Currently, there are 6,094 people residing in 38 Direct Provision centres located across 18 counties, along with the further 1,453 applicants residing in emergency accommodation.

TheJournal.ie previously reported that providing emergency accommodation for asylum seekers costs nearly three times more than Direct Provision centres.

‘Inappropriate and wasteful’ 

Speaking today, O’Callaghan said asylum seekers “should not be exposed to long-term stays in emergency accommodation”.

“As well as being inappropriate, it is also a very wasteful use of limited State resources. The State should identify any State property that can be used for the purpose of providing accommodation for asylum seekers.”

At a Budget 2020 briefing last week, Minister of State for Equality, Immigration and Integration David Stanton said the cost of accommodating asylum seekers could be €60 million over-budget this year.

Stanton said the extra demand placed on the asylum system this year meant the State “could be looking at an extra €60 million, €50 to 60 million” depending on the rest of the year.

He said this money was on top of the €70 million allocated in Budget 2019 for this area.

In his written reply to O’Callaghan, Flanagan added that his department is “actively working on securing additional capacity, both in existing centres and through the sourcing of new centres”. 

“Every effort is being made to re-accommodate applicants residing in emergency locations to a dedicated accommodation centre as quickly as possible,” he said. 

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Gordon Deegan

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