Providing shelter for Ukrainian refugees is “not the gold standard,” Minister Roderic O’Gorman admits

Integration Secretary Roderic O’Gorman has admitted that housing Ukrainian refugees arriving in Ireland is “not the gold standard”.

r O’Gorman confirmed that Ukrainian refugees who have been housed in large collective centers “can expect” to stay there “at least for a few weeks”.

He said the use of shelters, such as the newly built one at Cork’s Mill Street Arena, will become “a bigger part” of the government’s future response to the refugee crisis.

A number of tents have been set up at the site but Secretary O’Gorman said the tents would not be used as beds and anyone staying in the arena would be accommodated in them.

“It’s indoors, it’s partitioned inside so people have privacy for their sleeping places, but obviously there’s shared living and dining facilities,” he said.

“We installed WIFI, we installed other supports and there are all-around supports for the Ukrainians living there and you see … it’s not the preference, it’s not the gold standard, it’s not what we would all like to see, but we are in a crisis situation, we are in a pan-European war and we are doing our best to provide protection and security to Ukrainians.”

Speaking of RTÉ Tomorrow IrelandMr O’Gorman said the Government had “reached the limit” of available hotel accommodation and other solutions were being explored, including using college accommodation during the summer months, with “4,000 beds” to be available by the end of May.

He said while the number of Ukrainian refugees arriving in Ireland has declined in recent days, the government is preparing for more “waves” of arrivals, particularly due to the conflict in the Donbass region.

“Shelters like Mill Street, these types of group shelters, are going to become a bigger feature of how we serve people and we have to be open about that,” he said.

“It is what is being used in many European countries very early on in this crisis. If you look at how Poland, if you look at how Romania accommodates people, very early on they had big sports stadiums decorated with cots.”

Mr O’Gorman said that type of infrastructure will be part of the solution and the recently built large campsite in Gormanston, Co Meath, was set up as an “emergency”.

“That’s in case we have a day or two where there’s a particularly large spike in numbers in the short term,” he said.

In the meantime, it is believed that up to 50 per cent of the accommodation promises the Irish Red Cross has received have not materialised.

Secretary O’Gorman said a similar “significant” rate of drop-off has occurred in previous crises, such as the war in Syria.

He said many people may have initially believed that the Russian war in Ukraine would end quickly and he could understand why some people couldn’t keep promises of shared housing.

“It’s been eight weeks since this war started, I think people were hoping it was going to be a short war, but as people understand the nature of this war, the nature of the obligation, I can understand why people do didn’t feel like they could offer shared flats for a longer period of time,” he said.

He added that the government has so far referred 850 mortgaged apartments to local authorities across the county and is working to house Ukrainian families in them. Providing shelter for Ukrainian refugees is “not the gold standard,” Minister Roderic O’Gorman admits

Fry Electronics Team

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