I call for a debate with the Ministers for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth and the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Deputies O'Gorman and Darragh O’Brien, about the results of the Red C poll published in the Business Post last Sunday. It is Thursday and not one Member in this House has discussed this issue this week. We need to do a better job at housing refugees and asylum seekers. It is the elephant in the room that no one in the Leinster House bubble wants to talk about.
Some 75% of people believe that Ireland is taking in too many refugees, following the arrival of almost 100,000 people in the space of a year. Concern regarding asylum seekers in their area is highest among younger cohorts, lower social grades, and among Sinn Féin supporters and independent voters. I am sure this is something that many in this Chamber are aware of. According to an RTÉ report by Micheál Lehane, a freedom of information request revealed that up to 180,000 people could be seeking refuge here by the end of this year.
We need to come up with a better plan which takes into account the welfare of refugees, asylum seekers and everybody living in our country.
We have an obligation to take in refugees. We have taken in more people per capita than France and Switzerland. If we are taking in people, we need to provide them with a decent standard of living, not virtue signalling and then having no plan as to what we are going to do. Building virtual ghettos in business parks filled with single men is not what anyone wants. Similarly, mothers living with their children in small hotel rooms is not what anyone wants either.
This is all taking place as many young people are unable to access affordable accommodation or to get on the property ladder. A survey by Grant Thornton earlier this year showed that one in four people are turning down jobs in Dublin due to accommodation concerns. What is unconscionable is that all of this is avoidable, but there is no political will to solve it. A lot of accommodation owned by real estate investment trusts, REITs, are being deliberately left empty. Planning permissions for homes have been granted by councils nationwide, but they are not being built on to artificially increase housing and rental prices. Properties which could be renovated are left to go derelict because the Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and Green Party Government prioritises wealthy business interests over people living here in the long term.
Ultimately, this is about where we are now and where we are going in the future. I will conclude by asking all Senators to speak out about what they know is happening in our own communities when we have this debate. No doubt, it will be their political downfall if they do not.