The Irish Refugee Council, in a paper sent to government today, calls for immediate, all of government, action to prevent street homelessness of arriving international protection applicants. The paper was sent after Monday’s news that the government would not be able to accommodate some new protection applicants and that 32 people had been refused accommodation. 

Ireland has an obligation, under domestic and European Union law, to provide reception conditions to an international protection applicant where he or she does not have sufficient means to support themselves, this includes housing, food and associated benefits.

The Irish Refugee Council believe that protection applicants are at risk of harm and violence if they had to sleep rough, particularly in the context of the riots on the 23 November and cold winter weather. 

In the paper, Irish Refugee Council provides recommendations and ideas to source emergency accommodation. The paper also recommendations actions that could be taken, if people are not accommodated on arrival, to alleviate harm.

Irish Refugee Council CEO, Nick Henderson, said, 

“In April the High Court declared that the State’s failure to provide accommodation, food and basic hygiene facilities to a newly arrived international protection applicant was unlawful and breached the applicant’s rights. In addition to the prospect of our domestic and international legal obligations being breached again, we are gravely concerned that the combination of the Dublin riots, cold weather and stretched homeless services is a perfect storm and people would be a heightened risk of harm on the streets.”

The recommendations to prevent homeless occurring include: 

  • All government departments should be required to check for spare capacity and buildings. In February Minister O’Gorman said his department received just one offer of accommodation following his appeal for government-owned premises that could be used as temporary accommodation. We understand that greater capacity exists than this one offer suggests.
  • Rest centres and local authority capacity should be checked. RTÉ reported in May that there was capacity.
  • Defence forces have land and capacity that could be utilised to stand up basic accommodation.
  • Providers of accommodation to Beneficiaries of Temporary Protection should be compelled to provide accommodation to IP applicants where capacity exists. Single men from Ukraine are, we understand, still being accommodated.
  • Office of Public Works properties, including unused staff residential properties, must be considered for use.
  • An audit of bed space within the International Protection Accommodation Service (IPAS) system (for both international protection applicants and beneficiaries of temporary protection) should be done to see if, even a small number of beds, can be identified.

Recommendations if homelessness does occur include:

  • Department must have a cold weather protocol to prevent harm to IP applicants due to weather. 
  • A policing and security plan is developed.
  • Provision of at least a full social welfare allowance during the period of homelessness.
  • Vulnerability assessments prioritised for homeless applicants.
  • People are given the opportunity to pause their protection application while homeless. 
  • Taskforce of Government departments and NGOs.
  • Communication plan is developed and communicated.
  • In the exceptional circumstance where applicants can source accommodation on a one night only basis a direct payment could be considered. There are significant barriers to directly sourcing accommodation, including the requirement for ID and few vacancies, but it may assist a small number of people.


Notes to the editor

  • The briefing paper is available here
  • Irish Refugee Council's June report that captures the impact of homelessness among international protection applicants, “Now I live on the road, is available here.
  • The High Court's ruling by Justice Meenan can be found here.
  • International Protection applicants have no entitlement to Local Authority homeless accommodation, including emergency protocol beds in extreme weather.

For more information contact:

Wendy Muperi, Communications Officer, [email protected] 0858550434

Nick Henderson, CEO, [email protected] 0858585559