Sinn Féin spokesperson on Housing Eoin Ó Broin TD has today written to the Minister for Justice and the Minister for Housing to express concern that the nature of Direct Provision and emergency homeless accommodation does not allow residents to practice physical distancing.
Deputy Ó Broin said:
“Today I have written to the Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan and the Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy to raise concern that the nature of Direct Provision and of emergency homeless accommodation – in particular dormitory style accommodation – does not facilitate physical distancing.
“I have had discussions with constituents of mine who are resident in the Clondalkin Towers Direct Provision centre and there is also a real concern that Direct Provision managers are not doing everything they should be doing to ensure proper public hygiene.
“There are genuine fears that there is a higher risk of infection spreading because of the communal and shared nature of the accommodation.
“I have asked Minister Flanagan to outline the steps that are being taken by Direct Provision providers to reduce the risk of infection in centres, and I have also asked him to detail the engagement that his Department and the Reception and Integration Agency are undertaking with residents in Direct Provision to allay their fears.
“In my view the Minister needs to be actively sourcing safer accommodation for those in Direct Provision.
“In relation to homeless accommodation, I am concerned that physical distancing is simply impossible in many emergency hostels; particularly those that provide dormitory accommodation for single people.
“Likewise, I am concerned that the night to night system and the requirement for people to vacate accommodation centres from morning to evening places already vulnerable people at risk.
“I have asked Minister Eoghan Murphy to state if any consideration has been given to ending the practice of night allocations until after the Covid-19 crisis and instead allow people to remain in whatever accommodation is provided without the need to vacate during the day.
“Further, given that there has been additional accommodation made available to the HSE from a range of bodies including universities, should the Department of Housing and the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive not use this opportunity to reduce the number of people in dormitory style hostels?
“These are two vulnerable groups of people that need to be considered in the government’s plans going forward to tackle the spread of Covid-19.”