Taoiseach defends Government response to refugee accommodation shortage

ireland
Taoiseach Defends Government Response To Refugee Accommodation Shortage Taoiseach Defends Government Response To Refugee Accommodation Shortage
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The Taoiseach has defended the Government’s response to the accommodation shortage for Ukrainian refugees, describing it as “remarkably fast”.

Micheál Martin admitted it was “not satisfactory” that more than 30 Ukrainian refugees were left without accommodation on Friday.

But he rejected the suggestion that the increased numbers of refugees arriving in the country was predicted months ago.

It has emerged that more than 30 Ukrainian refugees were left without accommodation on Friday.

It comes after the Government admitted on Thursday that it cannot rule out that Ukrainian refugees will not end up on the streets due to a shortage of accommodation.

Speaking ahead of the Cáirde Fáil dinner in Dublin on Saturday, Mr Martin said it was not a “fair” argument to suggest that the Government should have predicted the need for accommodation.

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“The figures were not expected to be higher,” he said.

“Certainly not before the summer they were not expected to be anywhere near higher levels than we currently have.

“And the state hasn’t been slow. The state has been remarkably fast, I would argue, in terms of responding to a wartime situation, the worst humanitarian crisis in Europe since the Second World War.

“We’ve witnessed the displacement of well over six million people and Ireland in percentage terms per capita terms has responded in my view, in an extraordinary way, an unprecedented way, in terms of the sheer numbers we’ve already accommodated.”

He added: “Just because somebody said there could be 200,000, doesn’t mean you magic up 200,000 spaces overnight.”

The Citywest transit hub, which processes new arrivals, has reached capacity. It is understood some slept in Dublin Airport overnight.

Up to 55,000 Ukrainians have arrived in the country since the outbreak of the war in February.

Mr Martin said the Government was “urgently” seeking further accommodation, admitting it was “under pressure”.

Asked whether he knew the exact numbers of refugees being told there is no accommodation, Mr Martin replied: “Thirty-three is the number I have now and I believe some have gone back to the airport.”

The Fianna Fail leader added that the Government will do everything it can to “speed things up” to accommodate the increasing numbers of refugees.

Earlier Junior Minister Martin Heyden said it was “disappointing” that refugees did not have accommodation, adding that it was not the space the Government wanted to be in.

The Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth confirmed to the PA news agency on Saturday that 33 refugees, all single men, were told on Friday that there was no accommodation available for them.

A spokesman said: “Thirty-three people, all single males, were informed yesterday that no accommodation was available and asked to provide contact details for when it does become available.”

The Citywest transit hub, which processes new arrivals, has reached capacity. It is understood some slept in Dublin Airport overnight.

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