Number of Northern Irish hotels used to house migrants is officially revealed by The Home Office

The number of hotels in Northern Ireland used by the government to house migrants has now been officially disclosed.
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The News Letter sought the information from the Home Office, which is in charge of asylum and immigration matters, via the Freedom of Information Act.

It has now responded that some 19 hotels across the Province are used for this purpose, and described those housed there as asylum seekers.

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The News Letter asked for a county-by-county breakdown, but all the Home Office would say is that 14 of the 19 hotels were in Belfast.

The Belfast Loughshore Hotel in Carrickfergus has been probably the best known of the migrant hubsThe Belfast Loughshore Hotel in Carrickfergus has been probably the best known of the migrant hubs
The Belfast Loughshore Hotel in Carrickfergus has been probably the best known of the migrant hubs

"Where a local authority/county only has one hotel in use, we would not disclose that information as it could allow identification of the premises," it said.

The figures date from the end of September 2022.

They are higher than some had been previously believed – in November 2022 the Irish News reported that it understood "at least eight hotels" were being used for that purpose.

According to industry body Hospitality Ulster, there are roughly 150 or so hotels in total in Northern Ireland.

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The Home Office was also asked if the 19 hotels it is using are closed to the general public in the meantime.

It replied: "Hotel sites that are used for asylum accommodations are generally secured on an exclusive use basis."


Some of the hotel locations are already public knowledge – particularly the Belfast Loughshore Arena Hotel in Carrickfergus, which has been used for this purpose since at least summer 2021.

When the News Letter sought details about this scheme a year ago (when Priti Patel was in charge), the Home Office totally rebuffed all questions.

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It was asked how many people were housed there, what their status is (failed asylum seeker, pending asylum seeker, etc), and the cost of lodging them.

“The Home Office neither confirms nor denies whether it holds the information," it had replied at the time.

Then, in a statement which has been widely circulated to the media since last November (after Suella Braverman had replaced Patel), the Home Office said:

"The use of hotels to house asylum seekers is unacceptable – there are currently more than 37,000 asylum seekers in hotels costing the UK taxpayer £5.6m a day.

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“The use of hotels is a short-term solution and we are working hard with local authorities to find appropriate accommodation.”


Colin Neill, chief executive of Hospitality Ulster, told the News Letter today he views the issue wholly from a business point of view, not a political one.

"As we've come out of Covid I suppose particularly, any business is welcome," he said.

"I suppose we are the natural place if you're looking for spare capacity to house people.

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"Because of Covid it's probably been a bit of a boost to the industry while these are processed through.

"I don't think anybody would see it as a long-term thing; it's not the business we are in, primarily.

"From a purely commercial sense, obviously it has helped us as we've come out of Covid, and obviously with the cost-of-living recession as well."

There had been a building boom with many new hotels going up – especially in Belfast – prior to the pandemic, "so we had spare capacity, so I don't think it's had any negative impact in stopping other people coming", he added.

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Meanwhile the Northern Ireland Hotels Federation said simply: "There are a number of government contracts in place and these are individual matters."


The use of the Carrick hotel to house migrants (the bulk of whom anecdotally seem to be young black or Asian men) had given rise to rumours of a spike in crime in the town.

However, this is not supported by police statistics.

The PSNI was asked for an ethnic breakdown of crime suspects in the town for five years, 2018 through 2022 (with the migrants arriving sometime in 2021).

It responded that the vast majority of suspects – over 5,000 across the five years – had been either white or of unknown ethnicity.

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The number of crimes where suspects were Asian, black, or ‘other’ was comparatively tiny: 77 across all five years.

That breaks down as follows, showing no obvious spike or pattern:

2018 – 24

2019 – 16

2020 – 4

2021 – 19

2022 – 14

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