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Office of the Ombudsman GoogleMaps
direct provision

'Difficulty accessing services': Complaints from asylum seekers living in hotels raised with Ombudsman

There are now 777 people living in emergency set-ups in 25 counties around Ireland.

THE OFFICE OF the Ombudsman has received several complaints from asylum seekers living in hotels and B&Bs around Ireland. 

As previously reported by, people seeking international protection living in emergency accommodation have experienced a number of difficulties accessing basic services at these centres. 

Since September, the Department of Justice & Equality’s Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) has accommodated people in hotels and B&Bs due to capacity issues in Direct Provision centres. 

There are now 777 people living in emergency set-ups in 25 counties around Ireland. The department has paid nearly €7 million to private business owners running hotels and B&Bs in that time. 

People living in these centres have experienced a lack of service provision and have raised these issues with RIA. 

According to a spokesperson for the Ombudsman’s Office – which is charged with examining complaints from people about public bodies and has visited Direct Provision centres since 2017 – “people in emergency accommodation tell us that they are experiencing difficulty accessing public services.”

A number of issues highlighted by residents so far include difficulties accessing GP services, delays in PPS numbers being allocated in order to receive weekly payment, lack of educational access for children and unsuitable accommodation. 

The office has so far carried out 19 visits to Direct Provision centres this year – including one hotel. 

According to a spokesperson, information sessions for residents in Dublin emergency set-ups were also held at its office on Leeson St. 

‘Accessing services’

People living in more permanent Direct Provision centres generally have access to a full set of services provided by RIA and the State.

Since September, MASI (Movement for Asylum Seekers in Ireland) has received a number of queries and complaints from people living in these emergency set-ups.

In June, a number of people living at a hotel in Co Cavan complained to RIA about the type of food being served at the hotel and of having no access to GP services. 

They complained that some residents have had no access to medical cards for more than eight months and that local GP practices wouldn’t accept them as patients without medical cards. 

Some residents have also been living at the centre for over nine months despite others being transferred from emergency accommodation to more permanent Direct Provision centres. 

On 10 June the Office of the Ombudsman wrote to residents of the hotel and said that “we appreciate how frustrating it is for people not to know when they are likely to get a transfer to a permanent centre”.

“However, we also understand the pressure on accommodation in the permanent centres that RIA is trying to deal with.”

‘Lack of oversight’

Campaigners and NGOs have criticised the instability of continually locating asylum seekers in hotels and B&Bs in remote areas.

More recently, a lack of oversight of these private businesses has been highlighted while a lack of vulnerability assessments for people entering the country before being moved to a hotel or B&B has been of growing concern

Minister for State David Stanton TD said last week that “due to commercial sensitivities with suppliers, many of which are operating as hotels and guest houses concurrently with accommodating applicants for international protection, and also to protect the identity of applicants in emergency accommodation, the name and exact location of the premises being used are not made public.”

Stanton added that RIA staff carry out information clinics in emergency accommodation.

According to the spokesperson for the Office of the Ombudsman, it plans to carry out further visits to hotels and B&Bs over the coming months.

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