Existing State facilities for asylum seekers at bursting point.
Minister: “We are almost maxed out.”
‘Seanad criticising Stanton ‘for not doing more’
Sligo News File.
Refugees are converging on Ireland in numbers apparently way beyond what the Government is capable of handling.
David Stanton, Minister for Immigration and Integration, has said the problem is now at crisis proportions.
Interviewed on Clare FM, Stanton said all existing facilities for asylum seekers in the State are at bursting point.
He was speaking as protests have grown over Government plans to impose a further new refugee direct provision centre on Lisdoonvarna.
Residents of the area have accused the State of keeping them in the dark until after the government had signed a contract for the housing of upwards of at least 115 asylum seekers at the nearby King Thomond Hotel.
Lisdoonvarna is a rural village where services are relatively sparse. Stanton agreed that the government had not been assessed the area for its potential to cope with the needs of the vast body of refugees now about to be sent to the North Clare venue.
State agencies had only evaluated facilities at the hotel itself before agreeing the contract for the use of the place as a direct provision and reception centre, he said.
Stanton said the existing 33 direct provision venues in the State were currently thronged with some 5,200 residents.
“We are almost maxed out,” he said.
He gave no information as to the nationality of the asylum seekers about to be bussed into Lisdoonvarna.
The population of asylum seekers in the country may be much higher than disclosed in reports. Stanton said that besides those in direct provision, other refugees may be staying with relatives or friends in Ireland. It looks on the face of it that the government doesn’t actually know how many have entered the country to date. The Migrants Rights Centre estimates that the number of unknown, undocumented migrants currently living and working in the State could be as high as 26,000.
Stanton said people are arriving in the country as refugees saying they want International Protection.
The Seanad, he said, has criticised him “for not doing more.”
According to reports, the first 30 are scheduled to arrive at the King Thomond Hotel today.
It’s been alleged that Marcus White, owner of the King Thomond Hotel, and two hotels in the town controlled by the White family were fined €11,000 for employing 14 non-Irish nationals without permits.
The Irish Sun states that the Department of Justice has told them that “an individual’s previous history does not preclude them from completing future contracts.”
Currently, in Ireland, thousands of homeless children are virtually living on the streets as homelessness across the State surges to catastrophic levels. In the main, only temporary emergency shelters are available. Mums daily traverse estates and houses searching in vain for a place to live.
Focus Ireland has revealed that the total of homeless women has shot up from 1,566 in Jan 2016 to 2,462 in Jan this year. The overall crisis is, they say, continuing to deepen with a record 9,104 people now homeless in Ireland. Many families are victims of evictions.
In spite of the rising homeless disaster, the Government continues to operate an almost open door refugee policy.
New provisions have also been effected under which refugees located in the State will soon be able to have members of their family, relatives and friends at present living in various states abroad permanently join them in Ireland. Under evolving laws, both refugees and newly arrived relatives will also be able to take up employment in hotels, restaurants, cafes, public houses, factories and farms.
Responding to a question in the Dail last week, Stanton said that just under 20 premises were offered to the Department as potential direct provision and reception centres following a recent call for expressions of interest in the national press and EC Journal. The premises were offered by “individual contractors across the country.”
Stanton said his Department “works closely with the HSE and Departments of Education & Skills and Employment Affairs and Social Protection and all other relevant Government Departments and Agencies to coordinate the delivery of State services” to the refugees in the direct provision and reception centres.