Ireland set to tender for floating hotels to house asylum seekers

FILE PHOTO: A woman walks past a closed down Debenhams department store where a homeless tent is seen in front of it's doors in Dublin, Ireland, March 16, 2021. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Ireland is planning to tender for floating hotels and ships to house asylum seekers, the government said on Wednesday, as it struggles to accommodate an unprecedented number of arrivals amid a years-long housing crisis.

Close to 100,000 people fleeing the war in Ukraine and other conflicts have arrived in Ireland in the last year, a 25-fold increase on the average number seeking international protection in previous years.

Ireland's tight housing stock has proved insufficient, forcing many in recent weeks to sleep in tents on the street. There were fewer than 1,000 homes available to rent for a population of 5.1 million people at the start of May, real estate websites showed.

There have also been a small number of protests by locals outside some buildings the government has begun to use as emergency accommodation.

Ireland's department of integration said it had recently received a number of offers of so-called floating accommodation.

"Following detailed investigation and analysis of its use, and in consultation with various stakeholders, the department is expected to publish an RFT (request for tenders) seeking floating accommodation for international protection applicants," the department said in a statement.

Finance Minister Michael McGrath was quoted as saying on Wednesday that the government would rather use vacant buildings to accommodate refugees and asylum seekers and that consideration of using floating hotels was at an early stage.

(Reporting by Padraic Halpin; Editing by Conor Humphries)

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