The Joint Committee on Justice and Equality press conference today Sam Boal/
direct provision

'Treated like cattle': Justice Committee chair says 'profiteering' use of hotels for asylum seekers should end

The Justice Committee today launched its report into Direct Provision.

THE CHAIRMAN OF a Justice Oireachtas Committee has said the use of hotels and B&Bs to accommodate asylum seekers should be stopped. 

Speaking at the launch of The Oireachtas Committee on Justice’s report into Ireland’s Direct Provision system, Sinn Féin TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin described the continued contracting of private premises for international protection applicants as “disgraceful”. 

Since September 2018, asylum seekers have been placed in hotels and B&Bs due to the Justice Department’s difficulty sourcing suitable accommodation. 

There are currently over 1,500 international protection applicants – including 226 children – living in emergency accommodation with 37 hotels and B&Bs in counties contracted by RIA to provide bed and board.

The Department of Justice has paid €28 million to private businesses providing emergency accommodation since last year. 

The average daily rate across Direct Provision centres is €35, according to the Department. The average cost for emergency accommodation is €100 per person per night, recently reported

“We believe [emergency accommodation] should end. Full stop. End of story,” Ó Caoláin told, adding that asylum seekers are currently being treated “like cattle” by being moved from centre to centre with little notice in order to accommodate private functions.  

“The arrangement is disgraceful,” he said. “The people who are providing [emergency accommodation] are doing it to line their own pockets. They’re using people as a means to profit.”

Over the past year, a number of issues for those living in hotels and B&Bs have been reported by including 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.

Criticism has been levelled at a lack of vulnerability assessments for people entering the country before being moved directly to emergency accommodation. These assessments aim to identify specific reception needs for people. 

Most recently, reported ongoing difficulties for people living at The Clayton Hotel in Dublin. 

In its report today, the Justice Committee called for the government to move away from a reliance on private companies to provide accommodation for asylum seekers and said the Justice Department should establish an independent inspectorate for Direct Provision centres. 

“There is a need for regular, unannounced monitoring and inspections of direct provision centres, possibly by extending the remit of the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) into this area,” the report states. 

It also said a legal requirement should be placed on Local Authorities to develop integration strategies for asylum seekers and that “extensive training” should be provided to personnel working within the Direct Provision system. 

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