The numbers of asylum seekers being accommodated in tented accommodation at Knockalisheen Accommodation Centre in south east Clare currently tops 100.
New figures provided by Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Roderic O’Gorman TD (Green Party) show that there are 102 people currently being accommodated in tented accommodation at the site.
In written Dail replies to Clare TD, Violet Anne Wynne (Ind) on the issue, Minister O’Gorman has also stated that International Protection Accommodation Services (IPAS) centres “are operating at full capacity across the accommodation system due to the record numbers of people arriving to Ireland seeking international protection ”.
He said: “As of May 3rd, there were 593 International Protection applicants to whom unfortunately, the Department has been unable to offer accommodation.”
On the numbers being accommodated in tented accommodation, Minister O’Gorman stated that due to the unprecedented numbers seeking accommodation assistance there has been a need for Ireland and for many administrations across Europe, to turn to movable structures such as tents and modular solutions to provide shelter and to prevent homelessness.
He said that tented accommodation was set up in three locations to provide additional emergency capacity in 2022 whilst more permanent accommodation could be sourced and contracted.
The accommodation was located in Athlone Accommodation Centre with capacity for 175, Co. Westmeath; Knockalisheen Accommodation Centre with capacity for 104, Co. Clare; and, Johnston Marina Accommodation Centre with capacity for 40, Co Kerry.
He said: “The tented accommodation that was in use in the three locations was stood down for the winter period in November 2022. All residents from the three locations where temporary tented solutions were being used, were moved to more suitable IPAS accommodation at various locations.
He said: “However, the tented accommodation in Knockalisheen was re-commissioned in early January 2023 due to high arrival numbers over the Christmas period.
Mr O’Gorman said: “While the priority must remain on providing shelter in as far as possible and the use of tents is required, the Department will endeavour ensure that the use of the tents is kept as short term as possible.
In a separate written Dail reply to Deputy Wynne, Mr O’Gorman stated that Ireland has responded to the largest displacement of people on the European continent since the Second World War.
He said: “Since February 2022, my Department has worked to accommodate an unprecedented volume of persons seeking refuge following the invasion of Ukraine including 81,000 people arriving in Ireland, of which 60,000 have sought accommodation from this Department.
He said: “Due to the urgent need to source accommodation, the Department has contracted in excess of 47,000 beds to accommodate Beneficiaries of Temporary Protection (BOTPs) in more than 770 settings including hotels, guesthouses, B&Bs, hostels, commercial self-catering accommodation and certain other repurposed settings.”
He said that the priority “is to place people fleeing the war in safe and secure accommodation”.
Mr O’Gorman said that emergency centres have been opened in all parts of the country to alleviate pressure in the system.
He said: “There have been in excess of 135 emergency accommodation locations opened since January 2022. These options are necessary in order to provide shelter to IP arrivals to meet basic needs and to prevent homelessness.”