Time running out to rehouse 3,500 Ukrainian refugees as GAA says no room at the clubhouse

Time running out to rehouse 3,500 Ukrainian refugees as GAA says no room at the clubhouse

The first distribution day of many for clothing and food vouchers to give to the Ukrainian community in Maynooth College and run by Irish Red Cross volunteers. Picture: Lorraine O'Sullivan

The Government will have a window of between just 10 days and two weeks to rehouse 3,500 Ukrainian refugees at the end of this month.

A source called the end of August a "pinch point" when student accommodation, which is currently housing refugees, is needed to once again house students. This will mean finding alternative accommodation for those in student accommodation in a narrow window.

However, sources are hopeful that with the tourist season coming to a close and an intensification of the pledged accommodation system, the number of rooms and homes available will balance out when the third-level accommodation is no longer available.

There had been 4,250 student accommodation places in use across the country for Ukrainians arriving here, but some of those contracts ended last month and while some have been extended by a week, the vast majority will end by the last week in August.

On pledged accommodation, a senior source said that numbers of homes being used had grown rapidly in the last fortnight, from 2,200 to 3,000. Volunteers and NGOs are currently on site at many student accommodation centres to assist Ukrainians in moving to pledged accommodation, but some are said to be reluctant to leave.

They've never been to Ireland, and in the student accommodation there's a small Ukrainian community, so some are reluctant to leave that, even if the pledged home is bigger and more secure," said the source.

Around 50 Ukrainians who were at the Gormanston camp were due to leave for alternative accommodation on Friday, while just fewer than 200 were at Citywest.

The Irish Examiner understands that a call for suitable buildings across Government departments had not yielded accommodation "in any great numbers", but all buildings are being examined.

'Difficult time'

Colin Regan. Picture: Dan Linehan
Colin Regan. Picture: Dan Linehan

While recent weeks have seen the Aviva Stadium used to house refugees, the GAA has said that its membership will likely not be able to offer facilities until winter.

GAA community and health manager Colin Regan told RTÉ Radio that the call for accommodation came "at a difficult time" for the organisation.

Unfortunately, the latest call coincides with the commencement of the club championship season, which places extensive demand on all GAA facilities at both club and county level," he said.

A spokesperson for the Department of Children said that as of the start of this week, 43,520 Ukrainians had arrived in Ireland, with around 33,220 having sought State-provided accommodation.

Of the arrivals from Ukraine to date, approximately two-thirds are female, and one third are male. Approximately one-third of the arrivals are minors under the age of 18.

The spokesperson said: "Currently contracted accommodation capacity at present comes to approximately 29,000 beds in hotels, guesthouses and B&Bs, hostels, self-catering accommodation, and certain other repurposed settings with additional capacity also being pursued through accommodation pledged by the general public, State-owned or private properties which may be suitable for short-term accommodation, accommodation belonging to voluntary bodies, religious order properties and local authority facilities.

"This 29,000 includes approximately 4,250 student accommodation places.

"The department continues to investigate other options such as student accommodation for the summer period, and holiday homes. Contingency options are being put in place should the numbers arriving exceed accommodation available. 

These include the use of arenas and conference centres, as well as the use of tented accommodation in the Gormanston camp."

Meanwhile, three ships bearing Ukrainian grain left via the Black Sea on Friday after Turkey and the UN brokered a deal to shift the country's grain stockpiles to foreign markets. One of the ships, the Navistar, will dock in Ireland.

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