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Ireland could develop two-tier treatment of asylum seekers, Refugee Council warns

Large numbers of people are currently sleeping on the floor of the Red Cow Moran hotel due to a lack of resources for asylum seekers.

Minister for Children Roderic O'Gorman and his department are responsible for the direct provision system
Minister for Children Roderic O'Gorman and his department are responsible for the direct provision system
Image: Leah Farrell//RollingNews.ie

THERE IS A risk of “two standards” of treatment for refugees developing in Ireland in light of an influx of Ukrainian refugees, according to the CEO of the Irish Refugee Council.

Nick Henderson told RTÉ Radio’s This Week programme that he had personally observed a large number of asylum seekers sleeping on the floor in the Red Cow Moran Hotel in Dublin, as reported by RTÉ.

He said the setup in the hotel contradicted “basic health and safety”.

“There is also a question around the use of public money to accommodate people in such a manner.

“I think that this situation is symptomatic of wider problems in the international protection process.”

The Department of Children, which is responsible for the direct provision system and the management of refugees arriving in Ireland, has said that the facility in the Red Cow Moran is a “temporary resting area in a pre-reception centre” where international protection applicants stay for, typically, two to four days while accommodation is being sourced for them.

“Applicants move from the Red Cow facility as soon as alternative accommodation is available for them,” according to a spokesperson for the Department.

Henderson added that there is “considerable instability across the world” currently with regard to asylum seekers, following the UK’s new policy to deport refugees to Rwanda.

He said that this was likely to have a knock-on effect on the number of asylum seekers coming to Ireland, and, in the context of the war in Ukraine, Ireland was at risk of developing “two-tier treatment” for those seeking international protection.

Henderson said he recognised the work done by Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman, whose department is responsible for emergency accommodation for refugees.

But he said the department’s response to the situation at the hotel was “disappointing”.

“I do struggle to believe … that we cannot source 300 beds where people can live with basic dignity.”

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More than 35,000 Ukrainians have fled to Ireland since Russia invaded their home country earlier this year.

In a statement to The Journal, a spokesperson for the Department of Children said: “Since the lifting of international travel restrictions post-COVID 19, there has been a significant increase of new arrivals seeking international protection (IP) in Ireland, with an average of 1,400 people per month seeking international protection from the International Protection Accommodation Service (IPAS).”

This, coupled with the influx of refugees from Ukraine, has resulted in “severe pressure” on the Department to source accommodation, the spokesperson said.

“The accommodation shown falls far short of what the Department would wish to offer those who flee here; however, in very difficult circumstances at present, it was necessary.

“There is no diminution in the Government’s commitment to ending Direct Provision. However, the war in Ukraine has had an unavoidable impact on timelines for implementation of the White Paper. Over the coming weeks a review will be undertaken to assess the full impact of the Ukraine crisis.”

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