All government agencies are urged to explore housing options for Ukrainian refugees as concerns over capacity mount


The government is scrambling to find land to house more than 100,000 Ukrainian refugees, following an urgent request from the housing ministry.

Raham Doyle, a senior official at the department, wrote to heads of all government departments last week asking them to look for available property and land that could be used to house refugees.

Yesterday Housing Secretary Darragh O’Brien asked representatives of the construction and property management industry to help locate vacant buildings and land that could be used for the purpose.

It is understood Mr Doyle has tasked all other foreign departments and organizations with finding suitable buildings, as well as land that does not need to be zoned and has access to water, electricity and broadband.

Mr O’Brien has indicated he will use contingency planning powers to speed up the construction of homes for refugees.

Sources said the secretaries-general had until the middle of next week to report back to Mr Doyle.

He is also believed to have stressed to officials that designated sites should not isolate refugees from the rest of the community and should be served by public transport and other community services.

It comes amid growing concerns about the government’s ability to accommodate more than 100,000 Ukrainian refugees in the coming months, with some properties pledged to the Red Cross being withdrawn or unsuitable for use.

“A range of issues were discussed, including helping the industry identify suitable and viable vacant buildings for renovation,” said a spokeswoman for Mr O’Brien.

The construction industry can also be asked to help local governments find dormant building permits as well as vacant lots “for additional development”.

Options for prioritizing manpower and resources and best practices for “rapid construction and renovation” of existing buildings were discussed. The spokeswoman said the meeting also discussed “options for using private sector expertise, knowledge and skills to mobilize a nationwide response to the housing crisis.”

“Mr O’Brien made it clear to representatives that all suggestions would be considered and he thanked them for their strong support for the broader national effort,” she said.

Director of Housing at the Construction Industry Federation (CIF), James Benson, said the meeting heard there would be clear challenges in building more than 30,000 homes.

“That alone presents a very clear challenge for Ireland to meet given we have seen significant shortfalls in housing provision,” he said.

Mr Benson said if around 500 refugees were arriving a day, that would mean 3,500 a week and that “it wouldn’t be long” before 100,000 people were arriving, possibly as early as the next six months.

He said old office buildings, student housing or religious buildings could be “repurposed and renovated” to accommodate refugees.

The existing stock means that water and electricity connections as well as infrastructure such as roads or public transport are already in place.

Meanwhile critical help for Ukraine is being sent via an Irish children’s charity with two Bumbleance drivers tasked with bringing a Ukrainian refugee family back to Ireland on their return journey.

The Kerry-based charity will make a delivery of essential supplies including medical equipment, children’s clothes, stuffed animals and blankets to the Polish-Ukrainian border. All government agencies are urged to explore housing options for Ukrainian refugees as concerns over capacity mount

Fry Electronics Team

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