The Department of Justice says that a number of asylum seekers placed in two locations in Offaly is a "temporary emergency accommodation" situation.
The Department was responding to a query from the Offaly Independent following questions posed to the executive of Offaly County Council by Independent Cllr John Leahy last week.
Cllr Leahy claims 32 persons are being housed at accommodation in Banagher and Dunkerrin outside of the agreed settlement programme and told the Offaly Independent that CEO of Offaly County Council, Anne Marie Delaney had no prior knowledge of this arrangement until it was raised by him at last week's council meeting.
"The Department is using temporary emergency accommodation in Offaly" acknowledged a spokesperson from the Department of Justice and Equality, who added that there are "currently" no plans to open an Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) accommodation centre in the county.
"The Reception and Integration Agency (RIA), of this Department, have a legal duty to protect the identities of persons in the international protection process and must be mindful of the right to privacy of applicants when responding to specific queries," said the spokesperson.
They added that "As our accommodation centres are currently operating at full capacity, the Department put out a call seeking bed and board in hotels and guesthouses on a 12-26 week basis for emergency temporary accommodation for international protection applications".
"Two such premises in Offaly were offered for emergency temporary accommodation on a commercial basis in response to advertisements placed in the national media in January of this year.
"RIA will continue working to identify additional accommodation centres and work with persons currently in accommodation centres who have status to move on and free up capacity to ensure that people remain in emergency accommodation for as short a period as possible."
The spokesperson went on to say that the RIA has notified the relevant state service providers, including the HSE, Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, etc. of which premises are being used as emergency accommodation.
They added that "Once capacity is identified within RIA’s portfolio, the residents will transfer to an accommodation centre".
- More in this week's edition of the Offaly Independent