Some 319 asylum seekers will continue to be accommodated in tents for the coming months, as tented accommodation for Ukranian refugees has closed.

A spokesperson for the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth told RTÉ News that it had been advised that the tents in Gormanston, Co Meath are not suitable for winter, but that the tents used on direct provision sites are.

The last remaining Ukrainian refugees have been moved from the Gormanston Camp ahead of the dismantling of tented accommodation there this weekend.

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The family camp opened on the 18 July to offer temporary accommodation to Ukranian refugees, but also accommodated some international protection applicants, who were from other countries.

The day before the Gormanston Camp opened Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Roderic O'Gorman said that it was his hope that people would spend "a week maximum" in such accommodation.

However, Ukranian refugees spent up to three weeks in tents at the facility in the intervening months, and international protection applicants were there for longer, with one family spending almost six weeks there.

While the Gormanston Camp is now closed, three other tented camps continue to accommodate 319 international protection applicants in Kerry, Westmeath and Clare.


Read more: 'Wet and damp' - Ukrainian refugees adjust to Co Meath camp


This week the Irish Refugee Council cited "the use of tents" as part of what it described as "plummeting standards in accommodation" for intentional protection applicants and said it was "extremely concerned".

There are currently no plans to close any of these camps despite concerns that have been raised by the Irish Refugee Council, as well as by other NGOs including the Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland, Doras and the Tralee International Resource Centre, about the suitability of such accommodation, especially as the weather deteriorates in autumn and winter.

Speaking on RTÉ's Drivetime, Chief Executive of the Irish Refugee Council Nick Henderson said: "We believe a stay longer than a few days is entirely inappropriate", adding that he believes it contravenes Ireland's legal obligations.

Mr Henderson said they have given the Government a list of recommendations and ways to manage the situation better.

While the opening of the Gormanston Camp was widely reported on, until last month it was little known outside of Tralee that the first asylum seekers were moved into a tented facility there just nine days later on 28 July.

Up to 40 asylum seekers have spent 10 weeks in one large tent on the site of the Johnston Marina direct provision centre in Tralee, Co Kerry, the longest stay of any cohort in such accommodation to date.

Last month the Department for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth said that they were due to remain there until the end of autumn pending the availability of "permanent accommodation".

A spokesperson confirmed that this position "remains the same, and that residents will be moved from tented accommodation when there are suitable alternative accommodation places available."

No target end date has been specified for the 104 international protection applicants who moved into tented accommodation in Knockalisheen in Co Clare and the 175 who moved into tents at the Lissywollen site in Athlone, Co Westmeath, last month.

The chairperson of New Horizon, a group that provides support to refugees and asylum seekers, said there was no timeframe presented at a meeting today with Minister O'Gorman for when tents would cease to be in use.

Speaking on Drivetime, Gerry Callaghan said they are "seriously concerned" about the impact of housing people in tents coming into the winter.

He said the tents in use in Athlone are "essentially marquee tents" with fan heating.

A Department spokesperson said that the site at the Gormanston Camp was also by the Defence Forces "for operational reasons."

They said that "officials continue to seek accommodation solutions" and "given the significantly increased numbers of arrivals in the context of accommodation shortages, the Department has no option but to consider all potential solutions to facilitate accommodation of International Protection applicants, including using the available space in State Owned accommodation for the provision of tented accommodation."