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Private company paid €1.6 million in 4 months to find emergency accommodation for asylum seekers

195 people are currently living in hotels and B&Bs in the Cavan-Monaghan area.

Capture Mosney Direct Provision Centre, Co Meath Source: Asylum Archive

THE GOVERNMENT HAS paid over €1.6 million to a private contractor to source emergency accommodation for asylum seekers since September 2018. 

Trenthall Ltd is contracted by the Department of Justice to find accommodation in the Cavan-Monaghan area following increased pressure on its Reception and Integration Agency (RIA). 

Separate to the 6,162 people living in Direct Provision centres around Ireland, there are currently 195 people living in hotels and B&Bs in the Cavan-Monaghan area, according to RIA.

Since early January, a further 134 people have sought international protection in Ireland and are now living in emergency accommodation in Dublin, Louth and Waterford following a tendering process for further emergency accommodation by the department. 

Due to the rise in the number of applicants for international protection, “severe pressure” is being placed on RIA, according to a department spokesperson.

To comply with the EU Reception Conditions directive, use of emergency accommodation has been necessary for the past number of months, they said. 

Since September, Trenthall Ltd has sourced emergency accommodation as part of its contract. The company has also sourced accommodation for RIA in Dundalk since late December and in Waterford since early January. The company, in turn, pays hotels and B&Bs for providing food and rooms.

‘Adequate provision’ 

Although the department has said that emergency accommodation for asylum seekers is a temporary measure, concerns have been raised about the length of time people are spending in hotels and B&Bs and the level of service provision.

Jennifer deWan of Nasc, the Migrant and Refugee Rights Centre says that her organisation has raised the issue of “an over-reliance on private contracts” to provide accommodation for asylum seekers. 

“It has become clear so far from how the emergency accommodation is working that people who are being sent to these emergency sites are not necessarily being supported adequately,” deWan has said. 

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If RIA needs to use emergency accommodation then she says it must “ensure that those going into that form of accommodation are supported as much as possible” and that they “aren’t left in an ‘emergency’ situation for long periods of time”.

“We all know that the development of the direct provision system was initially described as an ‘emergency’ or ‘interim’ measure in relation to high numbers of asylum seekers who were experiencing homelessness in the late 1990s,” deWan says. “We cannot let this happen again in the provision of emergency accommodation.”

The 38 Direct Provision centres around Ireland are  currently at capacity. Although the department continues to tender for more permanent centres, its tender last month for additional emergency accommodation was issued as a result of a fire at a hotel in Moville, Co Donegal and a fire at the Shannon Key West Hotel in Roosky, Co Leitrim. On Monday evening, a second fire broke out at the Shannon Key West.

Both hotels were due to accommodate asylum seekers arriving in Ireland. 

A spokesperson for the department says that “it’s important to note that the hotels in which these emergency beds are provided are functioning businesses offering services to the general public and are not RIA accommodation centre[s]“.

RIA has said that staff members are in “close and ongoing contact” with service providers about service provision and operational issues in emergency accommodation centres. 

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