Department will consider ‘all offers of accommodation’

Snapping point: Killarney Chamber of Tourism and Commerce and KASI demanded to be kept fully briefed on plans

The government department responsible for sourcing accommodation for asylum seekers and refugees would not confirm or deny reports that there are plans to transfer another large group of male asylum seekers from Dublin to Killarney – despite concerns that the town is at snapping point in terms of being able to cope.

A spokesperson said those seeking help from this country have a right to anonymity and information on their accommodation will not be made public.

There have been media reports in recent days that a group of male international protection seekers, currently being housed in Blanchardstown, could also be moved to Killarney.

This follows a controversial decision to transfer close on 200 males to Hotel Killarney and to move 135 Ukrainian refugees – mostly women and children – who had been living there to alternative accommodation.

Given the strain being placed on medical services, schools and other essential services due to the influx to the town, Killarney Chamber of Tourism and Commerce and the Killarney Asylum Seekers Initiative had demanded that International Protection Accommodation Services and other State agencies keep them fully briefed on their intentions before any further transfer of people was even contemplated. They claimed that the first they were hearing of new arrivals was when the buses pulled into town and they warned that essential services could no longer cope.

Hotel Killarney where many of the international protection applications are accommodated this week submitted a written query to the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth to determine if the reports of another transfer were correct but, in the reply received, it stated that international protection applicants have a statutory right to anonymity and information on their accommodation – or nationalities – will not be provided.

“Given the significantly increased numbers of arrivals in the context of accommodation shortages, the department has no option but to consider all offers of accommodation,” the spokesperson said.

“In this sense, the department is availing of all offers of accommodation made to it, including the use of office buildings, sports facilities and tented structures, to address the accommodation shortfall,” the department added.

The spokesperson at the department – where Green Party Dublin west TD Roderic O’Gorman is the minister in charge – confirmed that this year to date to date, over 11,700 people have arrived in Ireland seeking international protection. As of October 16 last, there were over 16,500 people accommodated in the system compared with 7,250 people at this time last year.

Minister Roderic O’Gorman

This figure is in addition to the arrival of almost 55,000 Ukrainian refugees fleeing their war-torn country.

The department’s statement issued to stressed: “The pressure on the State to accommodate over 60,000 people currently has led to significant shortages, particularly for the international protection cohort.

“All of the limited accommodation capacity within the IPAS system is currently being used. Officials continue to seek accommodation solutions to the increasing numbers of IP arrivals.”

It is understood a bus of Ukrainian refugees arrived in Portmagee earlier this week and it has also been reported that Kerry County Council is in consultations with officials from the Department of Defence to develop Ballymullen Barracks in Tralee as an accommodation base for Ukrainian refugees where 60 are already being facilitated.

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