People in Direct Provision who have been granted permission to stay in the State but can't find anywhere to live should be counted in the Government's homeless figures, Sinn Féin’s housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin has said.
Mr Ó Broin said that those in Direct Provision are "essentially using it as a form of emergency accommodation", and added that the Government should also count rough sleepers and domestic violence victims seeking refuge in its published monthly figures.
Speaking to RTÉ News, he said that he believes the real number of homeless people in Ireland is likely to be more than 19,000, as last month’s figures showing over 12,000 people in emergency accommodation did not include those mentioned.
He said: "In almost all cases, they [those in Direct Provision] are registered as in need of homeless support with their local authorities.
"They have signed up for the higher rate of HAP, what is called the homeless HAP payment, and they are availing of a homeless place finder service funded by the Department of Children to assist them."
He also said that those seeking refuge with TUSLA-funded domestic violence support groups are not counted towards the figure.
"TUSLA through the Department of Children fund domestic violence refuges for women and children who are homeless because of domestic violence, coercive control.
"And we have had this phenomenon that has grown exponentially since 2018 of adults and children who came to Ireland sought international protection, got their leave to remain, so they are legally entitled to live in the state on a permanent basis, but they are trapped they cannot get out of Direct Provision, and they are essentially using it as a form of emergency accommodation.
"The bottom line is between the domestic violence refuges, those people with leave to remain who are using Direct Provision as a form of emergency accommodation, but also we have hostels that are not receiving any state funding that have about a hundred men and women in them, and we have rough sleepers."
Mr Ó Broin said TUSLA does not publish the figures with the number of women and children in domestic violence refuges.
He said the Department of Justice and Department of Children do not publish the figures of those trapped Direct Provision, and that he has accessed them via parliamentary question.
He said that if the Government wanted to end long-term homelessness, there needed to be a plan each year to say how it is going to reduce the number of people in emergency accommodation.
"If you are not counting it properly if you are not publishing that information... it should not be up to an opposition TD to publish this report."
He called on the the CSO to publish a report once a quarter with this information.