It is “fundamentally unsafe” for asylum seekers to sleep rough given the scenes in Dublin over the last week, the Irish Refugee Council has warned.
It comes amid widespread reports the Government could run out of accommodation for asylum seekers as soon as this week.
The Department of Integration is finding it increasingly difficult to find beds for new arrivals and officials expect there to be a significant shortfall in the runup to Christmas.
As a result, there is a real danger of some people being asked to find their own accommodation and ultimately, sleeping rough.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, Irish Refugee Council (IRC) chief Nick Henderson said the reports are “of huge concern”.
“It's never safe to sleep rough for anybody,” he said.
“It wasn't safe for asylum seekers after what happened on Sandwith Street in May when tents were burned, but after what happened on Thursday - violence on the streets, which had a clear far-right anti-immigration theme - we believe that it would be fundamentally unsafe and people would be targeted if that they did have to sleep rough.
“So, it's of deep concern to us.”
Mr Henderson said Ireland needs to “take a hard look” at itself – and ask why it is unable to provide accommodation to people fleeing war and conflict.
“I think it's important for us to reflect on the fact that if a country of Ireland’s relative resources and wealth is not able to accommodate people, particularly in the light of what happened last week, we should be all be reflecting on that deeply,” he said.
“I think [we need to take] a hard look at ourselves,” he continued.
“It's a relatively small group of people. The streets aren't safe. One Government department - the Department of Children - has led on this for the last 18 months.
“Our call would be for all of government, in particular the Department of Housing, to roll in and support people in this.”
Mr Henderson said the IRC has raised concerns over the integrity of the asylum process with the Department of Justice – warning that people are being rushed through the system.
The IRC chief said a “significant amount of capacity” could be freed up in the asylum seekers system if people who have been granted asylum were able to move on into public housing.
It comes after a new ESRI report found that Ireland has seen a significant increase in immigration.
The report notes that 141,600 people arrived in Ireland in the year to April 2023 – a 31% increase from the same period last year.