Hundreds of Ukrainian refugees based for months in a Clondalkin hotel have been moved to new accommodation in Cork, Dublin, Limerick and Donegal.
Some 220 residents of the Ibis hotel near the west Dublin village learned in mid-November they would be moved elsewhere to make way for international protection applicants.
The decision stirred anxiety about disruption for refugees with heath issues and the risk of families being separated.
In the event, plans were changed to secure places for about 90 people in “pledged accommodation” in Dublin, vacant housing made available by the owners for refugees.
Most of the other people moved on Monday to Trabolgan holiday centre in Co Cork, while others were taken to a former convent in Bruff, Co Limerick, and a small number were taken to Co Donegal.
“Most left this morning and this afternoon. The last bus left at about 4pm,” said Larry O’Neill, chief executive of South Dublin County Partnership, a non-governmental organisation that has supported the Ukrainians since they arrived in the hotel.
“We think there are about 35 families who have been rehoused in the Dublin area. The tragedy here is that the children had been in schools since September and before and had settled,” he said. “The education authorities in the area had made them very welcome and the teachers had gone to a great effort to ensure they were very welcome and included in all activities. Those children have parted from their little friends before Christmas, within the school term.”
Mr O’Neill added the question of helping families at risk of separation and people with health difficulties was considered a “technical” issue. “In fairness, [International Protection Accommodation Services] have sorted out most of those.”
Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman said the authorities arranged for 50 people to move locally into pledged accommodation.
“It is difficult when we have to move people within our accommodation network,” the Minister told reporters. “This is a case where we’ve had to do that. Last week, I met with representatives of the Ukrainian community in the Ibis hotel, and I outlined the reasons why we had to make this particular move.”
Asked about recent protests at East Wall in Dublin, Mr O’Gorman said it was “really important” to provide information in a timely way about the opening of new emergency accommodation.
“I’ll be looking to better resource a unit within my own department in order for us to be able to do that,” he added.
“There are some groups out there who will use any opportunity – be it the opening of direct provision or emergency accommodation or using the Covid crisis – to push a particular agenda. We in Government and in all of society will have to respond to that.”