A Government TD has warned that it is “wrong and inhumane” to house asylum seekers in tents – especially during the cold weather.
Around 60 asylum seekers were forced to sleep in tents in Clare overnight as temperatures plummeted across the country.
Several concerns have been raised in the past over tented accommodation for refugees during cold weather.
Fianna Fáil TD Cathal Crowe told Newstalk housing refugees in tents is “not appropriate” whatever the weather.
“I think on any day of the year it is wrong and it is inhumane to have people accommodated in tents,” he said.
“I have raised it with the Tánaiste but I have, more importantly, raised it with Minister Roderic O’Gorman because he himself deemed in December that this accommodation was inadequate but there was a U-Turn in that in January and now we are back with this tented accommodation.”
Deputy Crowe said the tents were erected outside the Direct Provision centre in his hometown of Knockalisheen in Meelick.
He said the centre has been in the town for a number of year and the town has been proud to house refugees since 1956.
“The tents were erected last July during a period of heatwave,” he said.
“I cautioned at the time that this was the wrong approach and it would come back to haunt us during the cold days of winter and the autumn period.
“It very much did and in December the people in the tents were taken away and brought to more appropriate accommodation.
“But there was a U-turn in that decision in January and we now find ourselves again providing accommodation I would consider to be inhumane and grossly inadequate at any time of the year – but particularly during a cold snap like this.”
Deputy Crowe said there were nearly 100 people living in the tents during the cold snap in December.
He said he “fully recognises” that the country is facing an accommodation crisis but insisted that, “putting people in terns is below what should be our baseline basic level of accommodation provision”.
“We cannot simply overnight catch up on where we need to be at but, certainly, I think we do need, on a day like this when it is particularly cold, when people were woken in the middle night by the cold, I think at times like this, it’s important that we again spotlight that people are sleeping in tents.
“That it is wrong and inhumane and I will continue to push that within the ranks of Government.”
Figures released by the Government last week showed that 80,000 refugees and asylum seekers are now in State accommodation - up from around 7,500 this time last year.