Homelessness in Ireland is now beyond crisis point, veteran campaigner Fr Peter McVerry has said.
The "real number" of homeless people in the country was likely double or triple the official figures, he told Newstalk radio.
A record high of 11,632 people are homeless in the Republic according to the latest official tally – which also show almost 3,500 children were in emergency accommodation for Christmas.
The official Department of Housing figures for December published on Friday show there were 8,190 adults and 3,442 children recorded as homeless. The total figure for November was 11,542 people.
Fr McVerry said the official tally excludes rough sleepers and women in refuges.
“We have record numbers of people who are homeless who are registered, but there are a huge number – thousands – of homeless people who are not registered. People who are not registered include people sleeping rough, women and children in domestic refuges who cannot return home and at least 5,000 asylum seekers who have been given permission to stay in Ireland and can't leave the Direct Provision places."
Fr McVerry also said that the perceived hardening of attitudes towards refugees was being driven by far-right groups.
“It's certainly true that the influx of refugees is putting a strain on services, including accommodation services, medical services, education services and there is maybe some sort of backlash.
“What I'm heartened by is that the protests in areas like Ballymun, the people of Ballymun have come out publicly to say they do not support those protests. I think it is obviously organised by a small, far-right group whose only interest is in stoking fears and presenting themselves as the solution to those fears in the hope that they will get more support - and maybe at some stage in the future get a few votes for an election.
“These protests are all about the far-right groups, not about the refugees.”