Immediate release: 

On 27 March, the government made two significant announcements about international protection: that Ireland would opt into the EU Pact on Migration and Asylum and a new Comprehensive Accommodation Strategy for International Protection Applicants. 

Nick Henderson, CEO of the Irish Refugee Council, responding to each announcement, said: 

Department of Integration Accommodation announcement:

“While the plan has several positive elements such as confirmation of a child benefit style payment and accommodation for vulnerable groups, it is extremely light on detail, dependent on funding that is not yet confirmed, and crucially, does not demonstrate a sufficiently urgent way to end the current homelessness crisis. There are now nearly 1,500 applicants without accommodation and no imminent offer of accommodation. The plan rests on converting office blocks - which is subject to the vagaries of the commercial property market, acquiring state land and building prefabs that will have a lead in time, and purchasing properties, that is unlikely to bring scale. These sources of accommodation are also not scheduled to come on stream until mid-year at the earliest, and there is little detail on how such a timeline will be achieved.

"Of very significant concern is the statement of the Department that there is an ‘increasing likelihood that families, including women and children, could find themselves without an offer of accommodation in the coming weeks or months’. This is of grave concern and a doomsday scenario that must be avoided. The prospect of women and children being without accommodation should cause alarm and action across all of government.

"While the longer term plans contained in the strategy may have some logic and good ideas, we are very concerned that the plan will not be fulfilled for another four years, until 2028. We are also concerned that the stage 2, ‘in the community style’ accommodation envisaged in the original White Paper seems to have been dropped. This was crucial to ending the institutional living that afflicts Direct Provision. 

Also, of additional concern is that the plan is predicated on capital funding being made available. The ball is in the court of the Department of  Public Expenditure, National Development Plan Delivery, and Reform to provide backing to this plan. We note that Minister Donohoe announced additional funding of €2.25 billion for public capital projects out to 2026 on 27 March. It does not appear that this accommodation plan is one of the items approved. Clarification should be urgently provided.”

 Department of Justice Pact opt-in: 

“We believe the pact is a case of the good, the bad, and the ugly. It attempts to show solidarity with member states in the Mediterranean, which is welcome. However the directives contain various devices and mechanisms for limiting access to the international protection process and then, when a person is in the process, making it harder to present their claim in a fair way. As an example, we are very concerned by the Department of Justice’s statement around the border procedure in particular and that ‘those who are processed under the border procedure will not be authorised to enter Ireland and will be accommodated at designated locations. Their applications, appeals, and removal decisions must be processed within three months.’ This seems to suggest some form of detention or restriction on movement, which is of substantial concern.

"Implementation of the Pact's instruments and directives will take time, and Ireland will have two years from when the legislation is approved to fully implement the changes. We will be closely monitoring legislation and implementation and relentlessly calling for the highest standards and protections in line with the fundamental right to claim asylum and existing international protection and human rights law.”


For further information or interviews, contact:

Nick Henderson, CEO, [email protected] 0858585559

Wendy Muperi, Communications Officer, [email protected] 0858550434

Notes to editors: