Free housing for asylum seekers is a worse idea than you think

It’s been well established now that both the Minister for Children and Equality, Roderic O’Gorman, and Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien, have expressed their desire to have the State Housing Agency provide own-door accommodation to asylum seekers after only 4 months of being here.

As O’Brien himself said:

“We are well advanced on a new phase of ending direct provision and I do not want to do anything that might further complicate that matter in relation to the focus the Minister, Deputy O’Gorman’s Department has shown in this space.

“I assure colleagues we are assisting in every way we can and have agreed that the Housing Agency will have a specific role with regard to sourcing, delivery and management of housing and accommodation to ensure those in direct provision can exit from it.”

He later added “Our focus is on ending the direct provision system and providing a real mechanism through which to get people into permanent accommodation.”

While the government insists that these houses will not be taken from the pool of houses Irish citizens are competing for, the fact remains – we will be building and purchasing houses at the taxpayers’ expense and giving them to individuals from abroad. As Minister for Equality, Roderic O’Gorman said:

“They will be provided with State-owned accommodation in towns and cities across the country, while they await the outcome of their application…The accommodation will be delivered through a multi-strand approach, in conjunction with approved housing bodies and NGOs. Some of the housing will be built, some purchased… I met with the Housing Agency recently and we will be signing a memorandum with them in terms of accessing the housing stock.”

Now right off the bat, a lot of people will see a fatal flaw in this plan – the point has been made many times, particularly by the people of Mulhuddart, that while many Irish citizens find themselves homeless or on the housing list for years, they will be leapfrogged by non-citizens and receive taxpayer-funded accommodation. The whole situation offends most people’s sense of justice and fairness.

But there’s another element to this which many people don’t immediately think of, but which must be addressed: an asylum seeker is just that – someone who “seeks asylum.” It doesn’t mean that their claim is necessarily true.

You, reading this article, could hop on a plane to France right now & “seek asylum.” The application means nothing until you investigate and verify it.

The idea that we would give houses to someone just because they come from abroad and make a claim is one of the most deranged ideas I can possibly imagine, and destined to end in catastrophe. But apparently that’s our newest policy.

There are discussions about asylum seekers being asked to pay means-tested rent on these houses, but the main bulk of the cost will be incurred by the taxpayer, purely because someone came from abroad and made an unsubstantiated claim.

Moreover, how galling must it be for the affected people of Donegal, that the same State which refuses to commit to offering them 100% redress on their homes over the Mica scandal, has offered to give asylum seekers their own-door accommodation at the taxpayers’ expense.

Speaking on RTÉ One this week, Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien was asked about the demands of the Donegal Mica protesters.

“100% compensation is basically what people are looking for here,” said presenter Sarah McInerney.

“It’s what people got in Dublin and in Leinster when it came to pyrite schemes. It’s a pretty simple request – the people of Donegal are looking for equality of treatment. Will they get it? Because again, the Taoiseach was asked about this a couple of times in the Dáil today, and he failed to commit to it. Will you commit to it?”

“I want them to enter into the process which I’ll be involved in, and we want to make sure that we’re covering as much cost as we can,” replied the Housing Minister.

“Will they get more than 90%?” the interviewer shot back.

“Well, I would hope they would get, at the very least, a real 90%. But I want to see that happen. There are real changes that need to be made.”

As the presenter rightly noted, “At least 90% doesn’t sound like 100%.” That it does not.

Anyone from anywhere in the world who makes a claim can be helped no problem, but when someone in Donegal has a home, and their house is on the verge of crumbling by no fault of their own, suddenly the government can’t seem to find the money to rectify the problem and has to haggle with homeowners instead.

Once again we are reminded of the mantra of the Irish state: Ireland and Irish citizens paddy last in everything, no matter how big or small.

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