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Tents at the canal this morning Sinead O'Carroll via The Journal

McGrath says tents should be provided to asylum seekers for use at State-run facilities

A small encampment has formed on Dublin 2′s Grand Canal, where asylum seekers with no accommodation are trying to take shelter.


FINANCE MINISTER MICHAEL McGrath has suggested tents should only be given to asylum seekers to use at State-run facilities. 

Earlier, Taoiseach Simon Harris said the situation of asylum seekers sleeping in tents on Mount Street “cannot be allowed to happen again”.

His comments come as a small encampment has formed on Dublin 2′s Grand Canal, where asylum seekers with no accommodation are trying to take shelter.

The State removed around 100 tents from the area yesterday and erected barricades to deter new encampments. Individuals in the area yesterday were offered alternative accommodation and bussed to different locations.

Speaking to media this afternoon, the Taoiseach said he is “determined to provide leadership” on this issue.

“Since I’ve been Taoiseach I’ve convened on two occasions a multi-agency operation where we’ve brought together all of the agencies that have a responsibility in relation to migration,” he said.

“What I’ve said very clearly is the situation that happened on Mount Street – which let’s be honest, didn’t go on for a few days, it didn’t even go on for a few weeks – was somewhat allowed to fester for many weeks and into months and cannot be allowed to happen again.”

Harris said that providing additional accommodation and sanitation to more than 400 additional people in recent days was “no small matter”, but he added: “I’ve also been very clear that the multi-agency operation doesn’t just end.”

He said he is “satisfied” that more accommodation solutions are “coming on stream”.

“I think we need be honest that a lot of that may look like tents with sanitation on public sites, but a more safe environment from both the public health point of view and from a legal point of view,” Harris said. 

Speaking to reporters this afternoon, Minister Michael McGrath said it is “not acceptable” to have tents accommodating people in public areas that “are unsafe for them, potentially, and also where the living conditions are not acceptable”. 

The Minister said the situation is “not fair on the local communities, either”. 

He said tents should be made available for use at State facilities, adding that this would be “common sense”. 

“I would expect that there will be changes over the period ahead about how this is working out in practice, because we can’t have a situation where tents are cropping up and the State steps in over a period of time and removes the tents and people are moved to State-run facilities,” McGrath said. 

“The tented accommodation should be available in State-run facilities at locations that the State is providing.”

The Taoiseach said “all levers that are at the government’s disposal” need to also be looked at to try to have a “sustainable migration policy”.

“I’m working really intensively with colleagues across Government to come forward with proposals in relation to that and I hope to have more news on that in the days ahead,” Harris said. 

New tents

Around 25 new tents sat on the banks of the canal this morning.

Speaking to The Journal, one young man from Afghanistan said he had been in Dublin for two weeks but missed the buses to Crooksling and Dundrum yesterday as he wasn’t with his tent at the time. 

There was a small garda presence at the site for a short time this morning. 

Local councillor James Geoghegan said he saw the tents begin to pop up again last night.

He told The Journal that the Taoiseach “has been very clear” that such encampments “are not going to be permitted on the streets”.

However, he added: “We have to acknowledge that from time to time is will be the case that, perhaps over a couple of nights, there may be people who will sleep in tents for a variety of reasons, principally being the IPAS haven’t been able to identify them accommodation.”

Asked where asylum seekers should go if they have not been provided accommodation but are not allowed to sleep in tents on the street, Geoghegan said: “It simply just cannot be the case that there isn’t accommodation provided for international applicants.

“It will be at least over the medium term, forms of tents and tented accommodation, but in appropriate places with sanitation facilities.

The wheels of the state just have to keep moving.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe said the State is now providing accommodation for around 30,000 asylum seekers, not including “tens of thousands” of people who fled from Ukraine who’ve also been accommodated.

He added that they are “deporting more people now than we have for many years”. However, he added that many people who are seeking refuge are doing so legally. 

“We need to apply our laws fairly and compassionately, which we are.

“We do need to move away from emergency tents in our city centre and indeed in other centres.”

He said there were broad benefits of openness, referencing people who come into the country on work permits. He said the numbers of people are increasing because of global movement – the greatest level since World War II – as a result of wars in Sudan, the Middle East and Ukraine.

Donohoe noted that it was important to be ‘open and honest’ about the numbers of people who are coming into the country. 

With reporting by Hayley Halpin

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