Asylum seekers sleeping on the floor in a Dublin hotel

The government has defended the standard of accommodation provided to asylum seekers, after it emerged that large numbers of people were sleeping on the floor in a Dublin hotel.

Photographs posted on social media show dozens of makeshift beds in the conference rooms of the Red Cow Moran Hotel in Dublin.

The responsibility for allocating accommodation to asylum seekers lies with the Directorate for Children, Integration, Handicap, Equality and Youth and not with the hotel.

The ministry confirmed that it was aware of people sleeping on the hotel floor.

RTÉ’s This Week spoke to several people staying at the hotel who said there were people sleeping on the floor in the complex.

A Somali man told the show that ‘there are a lot of people sleeping on the floor’

When asked if families, or children, were sleeping on the floor, he replied that “everyone was sleeping there”, adding that it was “not good conditions”.

He said some people stay for a few days, others for a few weeks.

When asked if it was safe he said yes and there is security in the hotel.

The Irish Refugee Council, which visited the site, raised concerns about fire safety and other safety risks to claimants. He described the situation as “deeply concerning and unacceptable”.

The Ministry of Children, Integration, Disability, Equality and Youth, which is responsible for providing accommodation to asylum seekers, said it was under “severe pressure” to find accommodation after an increase in the number of people arriving in Ireland seeking international protection.

“Since the beginning of February, the Department has welcomed 27,100 additional people, including 4,100 applicants for international protection.”

He said it was therefore necessary to create a “temporary rest area” at the Red Cow facility.

The Department said “the accommodation shown (in the photographs) falls far short of what the Department would wish to provide for those fleeing here, but in very difficult circumstances at the present time it was necessary.”

He said that “generally, international applicants stay there for two to four days while accommodation is provided to them at pre-reception facilities or IPAS (International Protection Accommodation Services) centres.”

The Irish Refugee Council and the Jesuit Refugee Service, who visited the Red Cow Hotel to observe the conditions, have written to ministers Helen McEntee and Roderic O’Gorman expressing concern over the conditions.

In the letter, he said he wanted to highlight “the use of two of the hotel’s ballrooms to accommodate people. No beds are provided and people sleep on the carpet or on makeshift beds from chairs. There are 20-25 people in each section of the ballroom (maybe more).”

“This is part of a larger group of up to 300 applicants who are in ad hoc sleeping arrangements (beds placed in converted conference and meeting rooms) in the hotel’s overflow area, in addition of the 500 candidates accommodated in hotel rooms.”

“The ballroom layout poses obvious fire and health safety risks to candidates and is contrary to the Reception Conditions Directive.”

“We demand that the practice of accommodating applicants for international protection on the floors of the leisure areas of communal hotels ceases immediately and that concrete steps are taken to ensure that this does not happen again, at the Red Cow Hotel or elsewhere.”

The Department for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth said it was contracting out additional accommodation for applicants for international protection every week.

However, he said he “continued to experience a severe ‘lodging shortage’ which he said would “continue into the summer during peak tourist season”.