As a solidarity-through-sport movement which works closely with people who have moved to Ireland seeking safety and sanctuary, we are greatly alarmed by the evolving situation impacting so many vulnerable people.
We are concerned by the lack of services and supports being provided by the State for people who cannot be accommodated by the International Protection and Accommodation Service (IPAS) and are hugely frustrated that additional accommodation has not been sourced or developed.
More than 400 International Protection applicants, at the time of writing, are homeless on the streets of Dublin. Many are already traumatised by situations which drove them from their homes and their families, and find themselves in a strange country with few to help them – save for a handful of NGOs who are doing their best and are under extreme strain.
In recent days some of our Sanctuary Runners were moved from emergency accommodation in Dublin to tents in Mullingar where their safety was threatened. Even the basic right to have food was compromised. This is totally unacceptable and shameful.
Some of our members who are living in Direct Provision and who have right-to-remain status, but cannot find alternative accommodation, have received letters telling them they must leave their centres. But where are they to go? The stress this is causing people and families is detrimental to their physical and mental health.
This morning we have written to Minister for Children and Integration Roderic O’ Gorman, and Minister for Justice Simon Harris, asking them to do much more to ensure the health, safety and well-being of all International Protection Applicants.
And that the Ministers and their departments do more to help people transition from living in Direct Provision to living independently once they receive right-to-remain status.
Additional accommodation must be sourced or developed, additional resources for people who do not have accommodation must be provided immediately and additional security and protection must be ensured for people living in the Direct Provision system.
We acknowledge the challenges caused by the housing crisis, by the impact of the war in Ukraine and by the increase in the number of people coming to Ireland to seek asylum. These are challenging times for government departments and state agencies but we are worried that the current situation is escalating wildly and the State’s inability to intervene effectively and compassionately could undermine social cohesion at a time when we should be seeking to strengthen it.
The work of not-for-profit organisations such as Sanctuary Runners to bring all people in a community together regardless of their nationality or legal status should act as a blueprint for how we prioritise community integration to the benefit of all.
We, as a State, have a duty of care to those seeking asylum and echo the views of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission that the State is currently breaching its legal obligations to people who often have no voice or no power.
Please don’t take their hope and dignity too.