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Minister defends use of mass accommodation sites for Ukrainian refugees

Millions of Ukrainians have fled their homeland due to the Russian invasion (Emilio Morenatti/AP)
Millions of Ukrainians have fled their homeland due to the Russian invasion (Emilio Morenatti/AP)

Mass accommodation for Ukrainian refugees is going to become a larger part of the Irish response to the crisis, a Cabinet minister has said.

Roderic O’Gorman, whose department is leading efforts to house refugees fleeing the war-torn country, admitted the Government is facing challenges with around 25,000 Ukrainians having already arrived in Ireland.

He confirmed the Millstreet Arena in Co Cork is now being used to house 70 refugees.

“The accommodation there is indoor,” he said. “It is not tented, it’s all indoor.”

Roderic O'Gorman
Roderic O’Gorman said mass accommodation sites are not the ‘gold standard’, but suitable during such a ‘crisis situation’ (PA)

Mr O’Gorman said such accommodation is “not the preference” but he expects refugees to be there for a “number of weeks”.

He added: “It’s not the gold standard. It’s not what we would like to see everybody living in, but we are in a crisis situation. We’re in a European-wide war, and we are doing our very best to provide shelter and provide safety to Ukrainians.”

He indicated the limit had been reached on the use of hotel accommodation, as the busy summer tourist season approaches.

The Department of Integration, he said, is now trying to find other accommodation.

He told RTE radio the Government is speaking to universities and colleges.

“Accommodation like Millstreet, that kind of grouped accommodation, is going to become a larger feature of how we provide for people,” the minister said.

POLITICS Ukraine
(PA Graphics)

“We have to be upfront about that. It’s what’s been used in many European countries from very early on in this crisis.”

Mr O’Gorman said he is aware of calls from various organisations for a national director to co-ordinate the country’s response to the Ukrainian refugee crisis.

However, he did not indicate whether such a proposal is being considered.

Speaking on the same programme, the Ukrainian Ambassador to Ireland admitted she has concerns about the use of emergency accommodation.

Larysa Gerasko said: “It’s not the best accommodation, even temporarily, but I fully understand that Ireland is facing a challenge, a housing challenge.

“Also, Ireland is a small country.”

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