Rural transport and broadband problems are hampering councils’ refugee housing plans


A lack of rural transport and poor broadband connections have severely limited the ability of some Irish local authorities to offer a range of suitable accommodation centers for Ukrainian refugees.

The Rish Councils have been directed by the Government to provide accommodation in towns and villages where refugees can best adjust to Irish life.

While some temporary shelters have been provided in smaller villages, these will primarily serve as transit centers for refugees to be accommodated in longer-term shelters.

By early March, 9,000 refugees from the war had arrived in Ireland Ukraine.

By April, however, that number had risen to 17,000 – and is expected to continue to rise dramatically as refugees flee eastern Ukraine, which is now expected to take center stage Russia‘s next big offensive.

Following instructions from various departments, local authorities have been directed to provide accommodation in towns and villages that are well connected to transport, have acceptable broadband services and are ideally within walking distance of shops and amenities.

However, infrastructural problems with transport connectivity, broadband and even services in some rural areas have meant that potentially suitable accommodation in those areas cannot be considered at this time.

That Irish Independent has learned this has precluded the offering of accommodation in some parts of rural Cork, Waterford, Kerry, Galway, Tipperary, Donegal and other counties due to poor broadband signals and a lack of regular transport.

In Waterford, accommodation for refugees was concentrated in Waterford City, Tramore and Dungarvan. “One of the main reasons we are looking at more urban areas as opposed to rural areas is that one of the Children’s Department’s requirements for housing is access to broadband,” Ivan Grimes, Waterford Council’s director of housing, told WLR FM.

“It is important that they can communicate with their friends and family in Ukraine. When it comes to accommodation requirements, broadband is almost at the top of the list.

“The guidance we are getting from the department is that the accommodation should be within a reasonable distance from city centres. That’s what we focus on.

“Because you are obviously talking about families who need access to services. So hopefully from Monday week the kids will be going from these centers to schools.”

In Cork, City Council staff have also worked to ensure refugee accommodation is within walking distance of shops and amenities – which in turn limits the scope of rural accommodation available.

“That was a limiting factor, there’s no doubt about that,” admitted a source from the council.

Ministry and Council officials have also been working overtime to ensure all refugee children staying in makeshift reception centers have school places available when classes resume after the Easter holidays on April 25.

The teachers’ unions have asked the government to provide the necessary additional resources for the schools involved.

A significant amount of church housing was provided to help refugees.

In the north Cork town of Fermoy, a Ukrainian priest, his wife and six children are being housed in the former convent of the Little Company of Mary.

Father Roman Biletskyy, a priest of the Catholic Church-affiliated Greek Rite Church, offered a special Easter thank you to the Irish for the warm welcome they have given Ukrainian refugees. Rural transport and broadband problems are hampering councils’ refugee housing plans

Fry Electronics Team

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