Ireland will have to get used to large numbers of asylum seekers and refugees, Ciara Kelly has said.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine last year, over 74,000 Ukrainians have arrived in Ireland and there has also been a significant increase in the number of international protection applicants as well.
In total, Ireland has taken in around 100,000 people in roughly a year and the Government has struggled to find appropriate housing for them all.
Officials are now considering renting boats for them to live on and Newstalk Breakfast presenter Jonathan Healy described it as an “absolutely awful” idea.
“The State has a perennial crisis with doing anything when it comes to providing housing - whether it would be for people on housing lists here, those who are being thrown out of rental accommodation or whatever the case may be,” he said.
“Everything is, ‘Oh, we’ll get around to it eventually, we’ll get it done.’
“Nothing is happening quickly enough and it is beyond frustrating.”
It is an assessment that Ciara feels is “a little unfair” given the unpredictability of international events.
“I think we are in a situation that is unprecedented,” she said.
“I’m not here to speak on behalf of the Government but I think it’s really easy to say, ‘What are they doing? Why aren’t they doing this? Why aren’t they doing that?’"
Ciara said Ireland already had a housing crisis before the outbreak of war in Ukraine and this means the Government's targets will have to change.
“We have currently got a target of building… 30,000 homes a year," she said.
“So, we’ve had three times that number arriving when we already have a backlog of people needing houses.
“Eighteen months ago, we were talking about getting rid of Direct Provision - now it looks positively luxurious compared to what people are living in.
“They’re living in tents, they’re living in modular housing, they’re living in all kinds of scenarios.
“But I’m not sure what you expected us to do?”
Ciara said Ireland is a wealthy country that people will always want to move to and climate change will create more refugees in the years ahead.
“This is going to continue,” she said.
“This isn’t, ‘We’ll get it sorted by the end of 2024’ - migration is now an issue that is going to be happening going forward because even if the Ukrainian war is sorted out, climate change migration is going to happen.”
Main image: Split of Ciara Kelly and tents lived in by asylum seekers