'Why it's time for a cap on the numbers coming into the country'

The Government has an obligation that it must fulfil, however it is admitting it cannot fulfil this
Barry Whyte
Barry Whyte

11.47 17 May 2023

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'Why it's time for a cap on th...

'Why it's time for a cap on the numbers coming into the country'

Barry Whyte
Barry Whyte

11.47 17 May 2023

Share this article

The Government's efforts to accommodate asylum seekers is back in the spotlight again in the past week.

A number of locals set up a blockade outside the Magowna House Hotel in Inch, Co Clare after a busload of asylum seekers arrived on Monday night.

They say they were not consulted and that there are not enough local services in the area.


While there were angry scenes on Sandwith Street in Dublin on Friday night, when protesters burnt a makeshift campsite which a small number of asylum seekers were sleeping rough in.

The Government say they are under severe pressure to house hundreds of international protection applicants. However this has been the case for quite a while now.

They have failed to get on top of the situation to date, and it’s difficult to see this sorting itself out anytime soon.

There are still hundreds of Ukrainian refugees and asylum seekers arriving in the country every month; around 85 Ukrainians and 30 asylum seekers are arriving in Ireland every day.

So it begs the question – if the Government is under severe pressure now to find accommodation, how dire could the situation be a few months down the line?

'They cannot fulfil this obligation'

Between now and the end of the year another 25,000 refugees and asylum seekers could arrive here (based on arrivals continuing at the same rate currently), and if the Government is under severe pressure now, how bad could things really get?

So is it time for a cap on the numbers coming into the country? We are constantly told that a cap on arrivals isn’t even an option, because the Government has an obligation to fulfil.

But the fact is they cannot fulfil this obligation.

When international protection applicants arrive in Ireland they cannot be guaranteed accommodation, which in turn has resulted in asylum seekers sleeping rough on streets of Dublin.

And Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has also recently said that there is not enough Gardaí to guarantee the safety of those forced to live in tents on the streets of the capital.

So the Government has an obligation that it must fulfil, however at the same time they are admitting they cannot fulfil this.

They cannot accommodate or protect those arriving, they have admitted this many times. But yet they are allowing hundreds to arrive here each week.

Can someone make sense of this please? Surely a cap on numbers is the right thing to do, sort out the accommodation situation first? Surely that’s common sense?

Modular homes 'not the solution'

There’s also no doubt that the Government are over-reliant on hotel accommodation.

Over 150,000 bed spaces across the country are being used currently and this is having a knock-on effect on the tourism industry.

The Government have been too slow to source vacant buildings, while we are still waiting on these modular homes to be built.

Originally the Government said they’d be ready to move into in October last year; seven months later and not one has yet be built.

Although they do say there’ll be Ukrainian refugees living in these by the end of next month.

Modular homes are not the solution: if one modular home is to accommodate four people, and 750 are planned for the entirety of this year, then this will accommodate 3,000 people.

That’s a drop in the ocean if you compare it to the numbers arriving every day.

I think the only common sense thing to do now is to introduce a cap, until at least some accommodation can be found: let’s stop putting the cart before the horse.

Barry Whyte is Chief Reporter for Newstalk

Main image: Split-screen image shows file photo of people on the Polish border with Ukraine, and passport control at Dublin Airport

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