More than 50% of accommodation pledges for Ukrainian refugees not fulfilled

More Than 50% Of Accommodation Pledges For Ukrainian Refugees Not Fulfilled
Almost 24,500 Ukrainian refugees have arrived in Ireland since the war began, with that figure expected to rise to up to 33,000 by the end of May. Photo: Getty Images
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Updated at 2.30pm

More than half of the accommodation pledges made for Ukrainian refugees in Ireland have failed to come to fruition.


It comes as almost 24,500 refugees have arrived in Ireland since the war began, with that figure expected to rise to up to 33,000 by the end of May.

As the Government struggles to find accommodation for refugees, some 54 per cent of pledges that were made have not been fulfilled.

According to the Irish Red Cross, it will have contacted the 24,000 people who made offers by the end of this week. Some 16 per cent of offers have been withdrawn. Meanwhile, 38 per cent of the property owners cannot be reached.


However, Irish Red Cross secretary-general Liam O'Dwyer told Newstalk radio that many vacant homes are ready to go.

"There is about 2,200, and we have moved them on to the department, and they are now looking to work with local authorities and with the IOM and with Peter McVerry Trust to do the placement of refugees into those properties," Mr O'Dwyer said.

"We are also doing some placement ourselves."

Mr O'Dwyer said the Irish Red Cross will keep trying to contact the 38 per cent of property owners who have made pledges but have so far been un-contactable.


"Just to ensure that people who may have missed our telephone call or email have an opportunity to come back again," he explained.

To date, 1,300 refugees have been housed in emergency accommodation.

'Warm welcome'

Meanwhile, locals in Millstreet, Co Cork have pledged to give refugees a "warm welcome" with about 70 Ukrainians arriving last night at the Green Glens arena which is the first large-scale centre of its type in the country for persons fleeing the war.

Noel Buckley, chair of Millstreet Community Council, said that tents pictured outside the facility "have nothing at all to do with Ukrainians." He said they have been in place for around two years for exhibitions at the arena.


Mr Buckley said the first bus arrived at about 9pm on Wednesday and that refugees were in remarkably good spirits despite the arduous and emotional journey undertaken from their war-torn homeland.

"The first bus load came at 9pm. It contained over 40 refugees, mainly women and children. There was a few men as well," Mr Buckley said.

"The second bus did not arrive until 11.30pm. That contained 27 or 28. 70 as I say approximately.

"They were of course after a very long journey but strangely enough they were in great form.


"They were very humorous people considering what they have gone through. And what they have left behind and what they have are running away from. A country destroyed by the madness of one man."

Accommodation arrangements

Mr Buckley told RTÉ Radio's Morning Ireland that living arrangements have come together as well as can be expected under the circumstances.

"Each family has their own separate unit with either four beds or three beds or two beds, and a kitchenette/dining room. They all have their own doors," Mr Buckley explained.

"All of the area is carpeted, and the heating is overhead which was working very well last night. They were great heaters. It was a cold enough night. And they were very satisfied by what they found before them.

"There are loads of toilets and loads of showers. That is the only draw back [that they are communal].

"There are communal areas. Their meals will be supplied by a professional company out in the main dining room. There is loads of accommodation around the arena where they can congregate and sit together.

"They can go to the caterers and take their breakfasts back to their room if they so wish or eat in the main dining room. They have electricity in their units, but they won't have cookers or electric kettles I guess."

'Well-used to refugees'

Mr Buckley emphasised that Millstreet area is "well-used to refugees".

"We have had them in Drishane for the past 25 years or so. They are an integral part of Millstreet. They interact with the community on very many things," Mr Buckley said.

"The people of Millstreet have all along been waiting for these refugees to come.

"Of course they have captured the imagination of the world and the Millstreet community will go all out to do what is required of them.

"The schools are all willing and will make room for the refugees, and they will be accommodated no problem. They have been a lot of refugees in schools in Millstreet over the years."

In the longer term, Mr Buckley added that job prospects are positive for Ukrainian arrivals with a local large electronics company currently recruiting for workers.

It is expected that the Millstreet facility will house more than 300 people. The intention is that stays at these facilities will be for a few days while medium term accommodation becomes available.

Single agency

Meanwhile, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Michael McGrath said that whilst there is a "high degree of co-operation" between Government departments in relation to accommodating Ukrainian refugees, he is "open" to suggestions that a single power or agency be given charge of the matter.

Speaking to RTÉ News at One, Mr McGrath said the most important thing is that the work gets done, adding that this was a situation "without parallel" in recent modern history.

"Almost 25,000 people have arrived in Ireland in a short number of weeks and the majority of them are being accommodated by the State despite the fact that we had pre-existing housing challenges that we were all well too familiar with.

"We have met that challenge to date, but the challenge is going to become even greater over the period to come.

"The Government as a whole is working on this issue. We have senior officials across all key Government departments meeting on at least a weekly basis. The Department of Housing is centrally involved. My own department in relation to funding.

"There is a high degree of co-ordination but we are of course open to new structures and new arrangements to ensure we do this in the best way we possibly can ahead, and it will test us."

Mr McGrath said given the volume of numbers of Ukrainians coming to Ireland it unfortunately means that "some of the accommodation that will be provided will be of a lesser standard than what we would like to provide".

However, he added: "It is a challenge we will meet.

"Minister [for Equality Roderic] O'Gorman and his team in the Department of Children are doing an outstanding job to meet the accommodation needs of people."

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