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'I don't want to see these people on our streets': Charlie Flanagan admits 'crisis' in asylum seeker accommodation

The Justice Minister says over 1,300 asylum seekers are currently in emergency accommodation.

Flanagan says there is 'a crisis' in providing accomodation for people seeking asylum in Ireland.
Flanagan says there is 'a crisis' in providing accomodation for people seeking asylum in Ireland.
Image: Leah Farrell

JUSTICE MINISTER CHARLIE Flanagan has said that “improvements” to the Direct Provision system are necessary but that he “doesn’t want to see people on the streets”.

The minister was speaking to RTÉ Radio One’s Drivetime amid questions about the government’s role in informing communities about the opening of Direct Provision centres.

Flanagan said there has been “no decision” about the potential for a DP centre in Oughterard, Co Galway but that “expressions of interest are ongoing”.

The minister previously stated that he was “very disappointed” at recent remarks made about the process and he again called on Noel Grealish TD to withdraw remarks he made.

Flanagan acknowledged that community concerns about Direct Provision centres must be listened to.

“In all cases it’s important that information be provided on the matter of education facilities and schools, school places. Teachers are concerned, parents are concerned. GPs and healthcare, of course, is an issue of fundamental importance to people,” he said.

And how is the healthcare service to be delivered in any area, the matter of public transport, to and from the centre, to and from the local community? And, of course, the important issue of sport and recreation.

He added that some people agitating against the centres are opposed to immigration as a concept and are not speaking for local communities.

“I believe it’s important that such demonstrations take place in an atmosphere of calm. I am concerned that many of these issues, where there are challenges, are being whipped up by people who have ulterior motives, people who are against the concept of allowing any asylum seekers into our country.”

Unfair

Flanagan also said he is aware that there are people who are “implacably opposed” to the Direct Provision system and said “a balance” is required.

“We have a situation where on the one hand, we have a group of people who are implacably opposed to the concept of Direct Provisions for reasons they say that it’s no way to keep people’s, that it’s unfair. And on the other hand people who just don’t want asylum seekers in the community, what we have to do is to find a balance, and that’s why there are improvements to the current system.”

Ireland is no different from any other EU country or any other western-type democracy in the manner in which we deal with people coming from the most vulnerable circumstances.

Flanagan acknowledged that there was “a crisis” in providing accomodation to people arriving into the country

“I have in excess of 1,300 people in emergency accommodation. I would hope that these applications would be dealt with as expeditiously as possible but we can have on some days 40-50 people coming to our shores. I don’t want to see these people on our streets,” he said.

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Rónán Duffy

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