In February 2021, Minister Rodrick O’Gorman‘s department published handbooks in a number of different languages, including Arabic, Georgian, Somali, and Urdu promising asylum seekers that the direct provision system was to end.
He also tweeted the promise in various languages.
On the same day his Department released a statement saying:
“Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Roderic O’Gorman, T.D., today published a White Paper to End Direct Provision and to establish a new International Protection Support Service.…”
“A new system for accommodation and supports for applicants for International Protection will be established. Under this new system, people who are applying for protection will be helped to integrate into Ireland from day one, with health, housing, education, and employment supports at the core of the system…..”
The statement went on…
“Under the new system, when people arrive in Ireland seeking International Protection, at Phase One they will stay in one of a number of new Reception and Integration Centres for no more than four months. These centres will be newly built to a high specification and will be operated by not-for-profit organisations on behalf of the State.”
“During this orientation period, people will receive integration supports to help them adjust to living in Ireland. This will include English language tuition and employment activation supports.”
After their first four months in Ireland, people whose protection claims are still being processed will move to accommodation in the community.”
“This will be own-door or own-room accommodation, for which they will pay a means-tested rent.
Applicants will be entitled to seek paid work after six months, and they will be encouraged and supported to do so. Integration supports will continue to be available to people who need them…..”
Publishing the White Paper, Minister O’Gorman said….”The accommodation will be own-door for families, and provide the privacy and independence so many were not afforded over the past two decades. Single people will have own-room accommodation, ending the shared dormitory-styled rooms associated with the current system.” (1)
It’s our view at M-Compass Media that we could be about to enter a period of great social unrest if the government doesn’t take the necessary steps immediately to stem the flow of migrants entering the country and introduce emergency legislation that incentivises landlords to retain their tenants.
A decent financial inducement to encourage people in the Direct Provision system to repatriate to their home country could ease the pressure there somewhat.
No doubt there are many people that came here full of hopes and dreams with a promise of a better life and now find themselves with little or no prospects of reasonable accommodation in the medium to long term.
Sleeping in a tent or in a doorway during the recent freezing cold spell certainly would not have been their expectations on arrival in Ireland.
The total spend on IPAS accommodation in 2022 was €356,554,000.
A fraction of the cost of keeping a family in Direct Provision for a year would probably provide them with a reasonable home in their country of origin if they’ve come here from a country like Georgia where average monthly salaries in 2022 was $450.
Housing supply is lagging behind population growth.
Data from Census 2022 shows Ireland’s housing stock grew by 120,945 dwellings, or 6%, between 2016 and 2022 to more than 2.1 million.
This was a slower rate of increase than the 8% increase in the population in the same time period which shows there were just over 5.1 million people in the State on census night. This figure is likely to have increased since then.
The 361,671 increase came about as a result of a natural increase of 171,338 where births exceeded deaths accounting for 47.4% of the increase.
Net migration of 190,333 where immigration exceeded emigration accounted for a 52.6% increase in the population.
The housing and homeless crisis will continue until supply meets demand. Squaring this circle is not going to be an easy task, it’s been decades in the making and has its origins in successive governments relying on the private sector to provide social housing.
Every city, town and village in Ireland has empty semi derelict buildings, probably more than enough to meet demand. The government could pass emergency legislation to renovate these buildings by way of tax incentives. However, this is a medium to long-term solution.
Meanwhile, housing supply is not able to meet the demands of a growing population.
One way of tackling population growth is to halt the issuing of PPS numbers to non-Irish people.
236, 819 new PPS Numbers were issued to Non-Irish nationals from January- December 2022. (2)
The demand for labour must be met by the people that are already in the country until such time that there’s enough accommodation coming on stream to satisfy demand.
A failure by the government to immediately stem the flow of inward migration is not only reckless, it’s treasonous because it’s likely to undo the progress to date in making Ireland a welcoming, multicultural society with a high level of social cohesion.
The unedifying scenes of
one-upmanship played out in the Dáil chamber in recent weeks where housing and homelessness are being used as mere political footballs is part of the problem.
What’s needed now is an inter-party pooling of ideas to come up with credible solutions to end the crises. If not, when the people rise it’s to the far right they are most likely to turn to.