Briefing for Opposition Leaders needed on Refugee Accommodation shortage
Labour Party Leader Ivana Bacik has written to the Taoiseach today to request a briefing for Opposition Leaders on the government response to the shortage of accommodation for refugees in order to maintain cross party support and hear proposals for addressing the crisis.
Deputy Bacik said:
“The Labour Party is deeply concerned at the faltering government response to the lack of accommodation options for Ukrainian refugees, and those seeking international protection in Ireland. This latest crisis was entirely predictable, yet the State must now resort to housing new arrivals in Dublin airport due to a lack of capacity in Citywest.
“I have written to the Taoiseach today to ask that he provide a briefing this week for all leaders and relevant spokespeople in the Opposition, and commit to taking on board accommodation suggestions and other policy proposals. We have consistently offered our support to the collective national effort in delivering a humanitarian response to welcoming those fleeing the war in Ukraine and seeking protection in Ireland, and therefore I am asking that similar briefings to those given during the pandemic and Brexit are once again provided for the Opposition. In recent weeks a parliamentary question I submitted revealed the low conversion rate for pledged accommodation for refugees; these matters must be discussed.
“After the Cabinet sub-committee meets today, we need to see detailed short, medium and long term plans of how the Department of Housing, and the Department of Integration propose to address the shortage of accommodation and ensure constraints on public services including in education and health are addressed. Earlier this year we responded to the request from the Minister for Housing for input on what steps should be taken, with a list of vacant properties that could be brought back into use. An update on what progress has been made on those property suggestions provided in response to the Minister’s letter would be welcome.
“It is also vital we maintain support across the political spectrum to accommodate Ukrainian refugees fleeing the Russian war against their country, as well as all other persons fleeing their home country, by using regular meeting of political leaders to address issues as they arise. We cannot allow far right sentiment to build in Ireland, and as refugees are accommodated across the country, we must ensure local communities are resourced and supported.
“There is also the programme for government commitment to phasing out Direct Provision, as well as a White Paper and Government roadmap on achieving this. An update on where this plan is now should also be provided, particularly given recent announcements that asylum seekers may be charged rent.”