An additional 70 officers are needed to clear overdue payments to hotels housing refugees

Integration Secretary Roderic O’Gorman has asked his government colleagues to transfer another 70 officials from other departments to his to clear a hotel backlog.

The state has more than 700 contracts with hotels hosting Ukrainian refugees. These agreements will expire in the coming months.

However, some hoteliers have long reported unpaid bills. A politician said that Irish Independent this week a hotel owner named 150,000 euros.

The number of invoices processed has “gone through the roof,” a government source said.

Some officers were temporarily transferred to the Ukraine unit in the Children’s Department before Christmas to help with the backlog.

Around 150 invoices are received by the department every week and all have to be settled at the highest level as public money is used.

“They all have to be filled out to a common standard by auditors and chartered accountants, and when it’s public money there’s a lot of boxes to tick,” the source said.

The extra staff would help work through the bills and pay hoteliers, many of whom are frustrated with unpaid bills and have complained to their local TDs.

Around 17,000 Ukrainian refugees could be left homeless by the end of next month if current capacity is reduced by 20 percent, and 2,000 applicants for international protection could also be left homeless.

The government remains confident it can renew all hotel contracts and it is understood no hotel has indicated they are ending their contracts yet.

However, it is expected that some may end their arrangements to make room for tourists during the summer season.

Mr O’Gorman has asked his government colleagues to procure large, empty buildings where camp beds and mattresses could be placed for people who need them.

These buildings could be either public or agency-owned property that could be used to house war refugees, he said.

The minister was praised by Fianna Fáil’s TDs and senators during a meeting of her parliamentary party this week.​

They acknowledged he faces an “incredible burden” in housing tens of thousands of migrants.

However, the government is under increasing pressure to house incoming migrants as housing shortages and protests against asylum-seekers rage across the country.

People in many communities have complained about a lack of services for people coming to their cities.

More than 80,000 refugees and asylum-seekers arrived in the country last year, and Junior Integration Secretary Joe O’Brien said the state should prepare for a similar number arriving this year. An additional 70 officers are needed to clear overdue payments to hotels housing refugees

Fry Electronics Team

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