Asylum seekers may be housed in floating hotels in Dublin.

Tánaiste Mary Harney has said that the government may be faced with no alternative but to house asylum seekers in floating hotels, known as flotels.

A number of decisions on how to treat asylum seekers will be made at a cabinet meeting tomorrow and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern said that it is important to get the policy right on asylum seekers.

The accommodation is based on a Dutch model of a floating hotel named 'Embrica Marcel'. The boat entered service as a floating hostel for the Dutch Asylum Seekers’ Agency in September 1999. It has previously housed refugees for the German government in Hamburg.

Similar boats have been used to house North Sea oil workers.

Accommodation is spartan but adequate.

Each room onboard sleeps three people and has its own private shower and toilet. There is a communal kitchen for every ten rooms.

There are sixteen staff on board including medical workers and police. The flotel also relies on voluntary workers to help with issues like legal aid, language learning and childcare.

The Embrica Marcel was designed for 250 people but now has 263 onboard. While it may be a bit cramped, people are free to come and go while waiting for their applications to be processed.

If the flotel model gets the government go ahead then flotels like the Embrica Marcel could become common sites around Ireland.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 27 March 2000. The reporter is Sean Whelan.