Scramble under way to find new accommodation for incoming Ukrainian refugees amid lack of beds

Army barracks are to be used to house up to 500 people, including in Westmeath, Kerry and Wicklow, with more being assessed

A scramble is under way to find new accommodation amid growing alarm across Government about the coming weekend, with more Ukrainian refugees due to arrive in the country amid a lack of beds for them.

A meeting of senior officials agreed on Wednesday another major push would be made to find accommodation for those fleeing the Russian invasion before the weekend, with a fresh call to all departments to make unused buildings available.

The plea, seen by The Irish Times, says that the Department of Children are requesting “urgent access to any suitable vacant or unused buildings from Government departments, agencies, or State-funded bodies that could be used to shelter those continuing to arrive from Ukraine.”

A source said the situation looks “very, very difficult” with “little to no new accommodation coming on stream” abbd the weekend “looking bleak”


Hopes were dented that a recent fall in arrivals from Ukraine might mark the beginning of a trend, with 202 arrivals into the country on Tuesday, up from the 167 who arrived in Ireland between last Sunday and Monday.

In the letter, the Department of Integration said it would “assist with facilities management and work with local authorities on access to camp beds etc.”

“Securing a building would enable the department to shelter those without accommodation while they try to explore all avenues to secure it.”


Meanwhile, Army barracks are to be used to house up to 500 people, including in Mullingar Co Westmeath, Ballymullen in Tralee, Co Kerry and the Kilbride camp in Co Wicklow. The Mullingar barracks could house up to 280 people, though there are concerns this may only provide enough accommodation for arrivals over a number of days.

A source said Kilbride would accommodate 90 people in the short term and 160 after works. Prefabs are being procured for Mullingar and dormitory style accommodation will be included in refurbishment

Barracks in Clonmel, Co Tipperary, Cavan and Longford are also being assessed.

However, there were signs of resistance to the plans in some quarters. A restoration committee representing groups that use the historic former Columb Barracks military barracks in Mullingar said installing prefab buildings at the barracks would be “unsuitable and problematic.”

An incorporeal Cabinet meeting could be held as early as Thursday to agree measures including doubling the monthly payment for those housing Ukrainians to €800 as well as an extension of modular house building. A source said the extended programme would be for 200 additional units but could be expanded further.

At the Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting om Wednesday night, a number of speakers suggested modular housing should be used for both tackling the housing crisis and accommodating Ukrainians.

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell is The Irish Times’s Public Affairs Editor and former Washington correspondent

Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones is a political reporter with The Irish Times