Government Accommodation Plan For Refugees And Asylum Seekers Lacks Balance – McNamara

Independent TD Michael McNamara has echoed calls by the tourism and hospitality industry in County Clare for the Government to ensure that accommodation provided to refugees and asylum seekers is more evenly dispersed across the State.

Deputy McNamara, has raised the issue on numerous occasions in the Dáil, saying the provision of accommodation for people seeking international protection and given temporary protection is being overly concentrated in western counties that rely on tourism and is having a disproportionately negative impact on the local economy.

“I share the concerns of the Clare Tourism Advisory Forum, the representative body for the tourism industry in County Clare, which has written to Minister for Integration Roderic O’Gorman,” added Deputy McNamara. “It should come as no surprise to anyone, apart from government, that the 37% reduction in the number of available bed nights in County Clare due to the repurposing of hotels, B&Bs and guesthouses has resulted in a significant loss to the local tourism economy of County Clare.”

Deputy McNamara said the absence of a coherent government plan to accommodate people is having significant consequences for counties like Clare.

“Other than seeking to transfer responsibility to County Councils, the Government didn’t seem to have any plan to ensure that accommodation provided is more evenly dispersed across the State when I last raised it in the Dáil,” he said. “Having previously requested that such a plan be developed in the Dáil, I would again ask Minister O’Gorman and the Government to outline what is being done to address the issue and when will it take effect so that the inevitable burden of meeting our international obligations is borne equally by all parts of the State as opposed to almost exclusively by certain parts of the State.”

In its letter to Minister O’Gorman, the Clare Tourism Advisory Forum said, “While Clare tourism operators acknowledge the unprecedented crisis facing Europe and Ireland’s international obligations to accommodate International Protection Applicants and those seeking temporary protection, we feel that the County Clare hospitality sector has contributed more than most other parts of Ireland and that efforts to reduce the dependence on accommodation providers in tourism-reliant counties would be welcomed.”

The representative body for the Clare tourism sector has also requested that the Government intensify efforts to audit and repurpose State-owned properties for accommodation, including all properties under the remit of the Defence Forces, the Office of Public Works, Department of Transport, Department of Education along with other governmental departments and State Agencies.