Hundreds of Ukrainian refugees to be housed at festival site for six weeks

Hundreds Of Ukrainian Refugees To Be Housed At Festival Site For Six Weeks
Minister of State Ossian Smyth said 750 Ukrainian refugees are to be moved into the site this week. Photo: PA
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Gráinne Ní Aodha, PA

Updated: 12.45pm. Additional reporting by Olivia Kelleher.

Tents at the site of Electric Picnic are to be used to house hundreds of Ukrainian refugees for the next six weeks.


The annual festival was held at Stradbally, Co Laois over the weekend with 70,000 revellers in attendance.

The use of tents comes after the Minister for Children and Integration Roderic O'Gorman said in November that Ireland would stop using tents to house refugees.

Military-grade tents at the Gormanston army camp in Co Meath and other locations have been used to house refugees temporarily as more permanent accommodation is sourced.



As of June, 84,613 Ukrainian refugees have arrived in Ireland since the beginning of the Russian invasion in February 2022.

There has also been a rise in the number of asylum seekers arriving in Ireland, beyond the 3,000 to 5,000 arrivals per year the State had expected.


The influx has led to a severe shortage of suitable accommodation for Ukrainian refugees and asylum seekers in Ireland.

The Government has sought to address this by procuring beds in hotels and B&Bs, by looking to refurbish unused public buildings, and using rooms pledged by members of the public for a limited time.

Minister of State Ossian Smyth said that 750 Ukrainian refugees are to be moved into the festival site this week amid what he called a “short-term” squeeze on accommodation options.

Mr Smyth, who has responsibility for public procurement, e-government and the circular economy, has said he is confident other accommodation will be found in six weeks’ time.


“We’ve been using tents in Tullamore in a military facility up to now as a last resort, and in the last four months we’ve had 10,000 Ukrainians arrive in the country,” he told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.



“So in other words, the rates they’re arriving has increased.

“We’re now faced with a real short-term difficulty for the next few weeks, and the Government has contracted to take over the tents that were at the Electric Picnic over the weekend.

“And I think that today or tomorrow, up to 750 Ukrainians will be moving into those tents, but that’s obviously a very short-term facility… six weeks I would expect.”

Mr Smyth added: “The Government has shown an ability and Roderic O’Gorman’s department has shown an ability to put huge quantities of accommodation online.

“They’re accommodating more than the population of Galway city at this stage.

“So within one year, they have come up with temporary accommodation at that speed, and I fully expect that they will be capable of housing those Ukrainians at the end of the six weeks.”

Vulnerable people

The Director of the Jesuit Refugee Service, Eugene Quinn, has said tents are not appropriate accommodation for vulnerable people fleeing war.

Speaking to Newstalk Breakfast, Mr Quinn said Ukrainians who are being placed in tents following their arrival in Ireland are not having their “basic dignity” respected.

“We find a year and a half into the crisis that we're still putting people in tents. This is something that we feel is not appropriate for people fleeing war or conflict.

“It doesn't meet their basic needs and it doesn't allow them to live with basic dignity. People are there for six weeks, what's going to happen at the end of the six weeks?” Mr Quinn said.

He also called on the Department of Housing to “take a more front and centre role” in relation to finding accommodation for Ukrainians.

“There hasn't been a whole of Government responsibility. It has been largely left to (the Department) of Children,” he argued.

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