Thursday, March 29, 2012

SVP told don’t feed destitute migrants so they’ll ‘go home’

The St Vincent de Paul is claiming it has been told not to feed or house destitute migrants from eastern European countries and they will "go home".

Southern regional president of the SVP Brendan Dempsey said he believes there is an unwritten policy to urge homeless EU migrant workers to go back to their homelands.

"We are housing destitute migrants though I think the State would prefer if we did not," he said.

"It has been said to me by state employees who work in the area: ‘Do not feed or house them, then they will go home. If you feed them they will not go home.’ They don’t want them here."

There are no up-to-date figures for the number of non-Irish homeless.

The most recent figures available for the number of migrants accessing homeless services in Dublin are from 2008. 

A survey identified 303 foreign nationals out of 2,366 people. A further 444 did not state a nationality.

In Dublin, the Homeless Executive, which has responsibility for overseeing homeless services, said it is committed to responding to the needs of migrants and that accommodation on an emergency-needs basis is provided for anyone that requires it.

However, homeless migrants are treated separately to homeless Irish, and are given a one-off offer of a flight home. In 2011, 416 people from EU accession states were flown home. More than half of those were Romanian.

A pilot project began in January to try and relocate people back home, and has earmarked about 20 Polish and Lithuanians in Dublin for a "reconnection initiative".

It is understood the Polish government may also allocate money to assist Poles who have fallen on hard times.

Mr Dempsey said this would be a positive step but details were unclear.

"We have heard there is €15m available globally from the Polish government but we don’t know what will trickle down to those on the streets."