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Minister Roderic O'Gorman Alamy Stock Photo

O'Gorman 'can't rule out' refugees sleeping on streets as Citywest closes to new arrivals

It was reported yesterday that the Citywest facility has now reached capacity.

MINISTER RODERIC O’Gorman has said he cannot rule out that refugees arriving in Ireland seeking accommodation may have to sleep on the streets. 

It was reported yesterday that the Citywest facility has now reached capacity and that new arrivals from Ukraine and other countries may have to sleep overnight in Dublin Airport. 

Arrivals to the Citywest Transit Hub have now been paused due to the “significant increase in the number of people seeking accommodation in recent weeks”, the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth said yesterday. 

Over 58,000 people (42,000 Ukrainian, 16,000 International Protection) are now being accommodated in Ireland, said the department. 

Citywest was designed as a reception centre for Ukrainians fleeing war, where arrivals into the country were bused to the complex for processing.

Speaking to RTÉ’s Morning Ireland today, Minister for Integration Roderic O’Gorman said: “We are making clear we’re not in a position to guarantee everyone an offer of accommodation.

“What we will do is prioritise vulnerable people, we’ll prioritise women and children in terms of the provision of accommodation and for those who we are not able to offer accommodation to we will work with NGOs to provide some services to them.”

O’Gorman said the Department will “keep in contact with them and when accommodation is available again, we will let them known so they can rejoin the process”. 

When asked if there is a danger that people will have to sleep on the streets, O’Gorman said: “I can’t rule that out.” 

“That’s why we’re speaking very clearly today and engaging with the Ukrainian embassy in terms of letting people know that there is a major constraint on capacity, particularly next week. It’s not that we have no accommodation available, but we don’t have enough accommodation available,” he said. 

O’Gorman said that from Monday, an overnight facility in Dublin Airport will be used. 

He said that they have found over the past number of months a significant number of people, particularly Ukrainians, have been arriving on late night flights.

“So the idea would be there rather than them being immediately transferred to Citywest, that they would be accommodation in Dublin Airport overnight and transferred to Citywest the next day,” the Minister said. 

He later said he can’t guarantee this situation won’t happen again going into the winter, particularly if numbers remain as high. 

In May, the Government signed off on leasing the Citywest Hotel in Dublin for two years to accommodate Ukrainian refugees.

The Department said yesterday it is working urgently across Government and with agencies, NGOs and local authorities to bring new accommodation on board so that the State’s humanitarian responsibilities can be met to both IPs and those from Ukraine.

Also speaking to RTÉ’s Morning Ireland today, Irish Refugee Council CEO Nick Henderson said that “this is a most, most serious situation”. 

“It really represents a breakdown in the reception of refugees, both Ukrainian and people seeking protection here in Ireland,” Henderson said. 

He said the Government has warned of this for many months, along with civil society organisations, such as the IRC. 

“It has been predictable as gradually accommodation options across the country have run out and Citywest has become fuller and fuller and then finally yesterday reached the capacity,” he said. 

“It’s time enough now that one agency within one government department has had to carry out responsibility for this,” Henderson added. 

“The international protection accommodation service has led in trying to find accommodation but now is the time, in what really is a very serious humanitarian emergency, for other Government departments to take their responsibilities, fulfill their responsibilities, to support people seeking protection in Ireland.”

With reporting by Christina Finn

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