Gráinne Ní Aodha, PA
Tánaiste Micheál Martin has said finding accommodation for asylum seekers and refugees is “a collective endeavour” by the Government.
Asked whether the Minister for Integration Roderic O’Gorma has the support he needs, Mr Martin said “yes”.
Mr Martin made the comments as a protest was held outside a former hotel, Magowna House, in Co Clare in response to over 30 asylum seekers arriving by bus on Monday.
He said the State has accommodated numbers of migrants “over and above” anything since the foundation of the State, but that this has led to “strains and pressures”.
It comes as hundreds of asylum seekers have been left without accommodation due to a severe lack of housing supply, resulting in some people sleeping in tents.
The Dáil heard on Wednesday that Mr O’Gorman’s department intends to open 350 additional beds for migrants this week.
“It’s very, very difficult, and I think that we must always, in anything we do in our society, have the dignity of the individual and the human being at centre stage, and these are people who have come from very difficult situations, the world is in considerable conflict at the moment, many conflicts all over the world, that’s leading to a lot of migration,” Mr Martin said.
“We’ve a horrific war on our doorstep in Europe in Ukraine, but apart from that, we have significant additional migration resulting from conflicts all over the world in addition to the impacts of climate change in some parts of the world.
“And that’s evident right across Europe and right across the world, in fact, and Ireland is no different in that respect.
“Now we have accommodated unprecedented numbers this year, over and above anything experienced since the foundation of the state. That has created strains and pressures.
“But I think we need to, as a society, be very clear that many of the people coming forward are not a threat to society or to our communities as sometimes is presented, wrongfully, by some groups.
“And that we have to put the dignity of the individual centre stage, which is part of who we are and what we are and act then accordingly.
“I understand there are pressures, I understand there are concerns.
“We have a duty then in terms of communication in dealing with those concerns, and also in terms of wider issues.
“This is a collective government endeavour, we’re all working collectively with local authorities to do the very best we can in terms of provision of accommodation.”
Meanwhile, Clare TD Cathal Crowe has said he met with Mr O’Gorman to voice his concerns about Magowna House, who said the decision to accommodate the asylum seekers at the Clare facility would not be reversed due to the lack of supply of beds elsewhere.
“He very much made it clear that there is a national crisis and that accommodation has to be found somewhere,” Mr Crowe told RTÉ radio’s News at One.
“He accepted that there are limitations to the facility. He said that for now it’s very much limited by a fire cert issue which limits the number who can be accommodated there.”
Mr Crowe said that because of the fire cert issue, people could not sleep in the hotel, but they could use it for recreational purposes and for meals. The asylum seekers who arrived at the former hotel on Monday will stay in adjoining bungalows for an anticipated two weeks until the fire cert is in place when they can move into the main hotel building, he added.
Mr Crowe again stressed that the community in Clare is very welcoming to the people seeking international protection.
“We’re very sympathetic to their cause. There is a good reason why we’re not on the lunchtime news talking about the 20 other facilities in the county, because they’re very well run, they’re well managed, there isn’t a squeak out of the local communities.
“We’re talking about this as politicians of the county, because, number one, lack of information, number two, lack outrightly of suitability, and number three, there are so many questions still unanswered.”