Asylum seekers say they are being forced to live in inhumane conditions due to serious overcrowding at some reception centres.
For The Pat Kenny Show this morning, Newstalk reporter Barry Whyte spoke to asylum seekers who were told the sleep on the streets on their arrival in Ireland.
They told Barry that the accommodation they have been given since is not much better.
“When [too many] people come, look what they do; they put a lot of people - like 300 people - into a small place,” said one man. “There is a lot of trouble.”
“You can see the situation when you put people from different countries into a small space – they fight with each other and they make troubles with the people outside.
“The living conditions are not good. They have to stop bringing more people to Ireland because it is small. They shouldn’t bring this much people.”
Another man said people should know asylum seekers are not living in luxury.
“We’re not living in the 5 Star what people think we’re living in,” he said.
“I mean, you see yourself, For me, it is not a place for a human being. It is kind of sad people think we’re living in five stars.”
According to new Department of Justice figures released to Barry this morning, just over 4,500 refugees and asylum seekers have arrived in Ireland so far this year.
That includes 3,073 Ukrainians fleeing the ongoing war and 1,437 people seeking international protection from other countries.
If that average were to continue, Ireland would take in a further 54,000 refugees and asylum seekers in 2023.
"We can't cater for them"
The Light House mission, which feeds the homeless five days a week on Pearse Street in Dublin, told Barry it has seen a 30% increase in the numbers seeking help in recent months.
Manager Ger Ganley questioned whether Ireland should continue to accept people if it is struggling to house them.
“We’re accepting asylum seekers into the country when we can’t cater for them,” he said. “How unwelcoming that must feel for them.
“I think there is an onus on us as a country to look at that and really say to ourselves at this stage should we actually be receiving asylum seekers.
“We have to have some duty of care to these individuals.
“This is people’s lives and it is heart-wrenching to think that there are people coming for foreign countries tonight that don’t have a place of safety, don’t have a place of shelter, which is a basic human need.”
He said it is only right that Government examines the numbers in a “logical and realistic way” and makes a decision on what we are capable of providing as a country.
“We cannot cater for these figures at this moment,” he said. “Even in this building, our building has gotten drastically small at the moment.
“We cannot cater for the amount of people that are coming here. It is astronomical, the amount of people that are coming here.”
"They can't do maths"
People Barry spoke to on the streets of Kildare had a similar view.
“I think the Government might not be in Government the next time there is an election because they’ve gone and messed it up so much that nobody believes them anymore,” said one woman.
“We are all very sceptical of the Government. They cannot do maths. They cannot do maths.
“You can’t get places in schools for children and you can’t get housing. There is nothing in this country. Not for the ordinary Joe Soap.”
Overnight, EU leaders agreed on a package of tougher rules aimed at reducing the numbers of asylum seekers arriving into the bloc.
On Newstalk Breakfast, MEP Barry Andrews said he was ‘very disappointed’ with the move labelling it ‘solely the narrative of the far-right.’
Last week, Barry revealed that over 5,000 asylum seekers arriving in Ireland last year had no valid travel documents.
The Government has since decided to step up checks at the steps of planes arriving at Dublin Airport and to speed up checks on asylum seekers arriving in Ireland from so-called 'safe' countries.
You can listen back to Barry’s latest report here:
Main image shows asylum seekers queueing outside the Refugee Application Centre on Mount Street in Dublin, 30-01-2023. Image: Sasko Lazarov/RollingNews.