More than 27,300 Ukrainians have arrived in Ireland to date, says Minister

Much of refugee accommodation being provided ‘not perfect’, O’Gorman tells Dáil

More than 27,300 Ukrainians have arrived in Ireland to date, with 18,000 of those requiring accommodation, the Minister for for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth Roderic O'Gorman has said.

Meanwhile, Ireland has frozen approximately €1.25 billion of Russian assets, Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has said.

The ministers were providing an update to the Dáil on Thursday in relation to the Government's response to the crisis in Ukraine.

Mr O’Gorman said while everyone who had fled Ukraine for Ireland had been offered a place of “safety and security”, much of the accommodation being provided was “not perfect” and involved “a degree of congregated or group living”.

“Over the last week, local authorities have stood up emergency accommodation locations across the country and the majority of immediate accommodation allocated at this time is in emergency accommodation,” he said.

“The nature of emergency accommodation is that it’s temporary and it can involve a number of moves for those involved, which is also a logistical challenge for the departments.

“This need to move people on from the temporary emergency accommodation; it’s not ideal, and we would have hoped not to add to the stresses of our new arrivals.”

Mr O’Gorman said his department was exploring “all options” for accommodating Ukrainian refugees which had involved “some creative solutions to an ever evolving situation”.

He said the Millstreet Arena in Co Cork had opened and would take up to 320 people, and that some larger serviced accommodation centres such as hotels would come online soon.

“My department is advancing other options such as student accommodation as well,” he added.

The minister said the issue of payment for those pledging accommodation was being “actively considered” by the Government.

Further measures

Mr O’Gorman said Ireland had never experienced an influx of refugees on “this scale before” and at a time when the State’s own housing crisis was “severe”. The Green Party TD said 85 per cent of those who have arrived in Ireland from Ukraine are women and children.

Mr Coveney said the Government was maintaining "close and regular contact" with their Ukrainian counterparts. He said those who perpetrated "heinous crimes" in Bucha must be "brought to justice".

Mr Coveney said Ireland was supportive of further measures being taken against Russia, with a sixth package of sanctions presented by the European Commission on Wednesday. He added that Ireland had frozen approximately €1.25 billion of Russian assets up until April 29th.

The minister said it was important to be honest about the extent of the challenge of housing Ukrainians and that “not all of the solutions will be perfect”.

Minister for Housing Darragh O'Brien said housing was the greatest challenge facing the Government and where the pressure of the Ukrainian emergency would be "felt most acutely".

“The crisis simultaneously poses an unprecedented demographic shock and a supply chain crisis for our housing system,” he said.

“The invasion will have an impact on the overall housing supply, but it’s too volatile and too early and unclear to quantify exactly what the extent of that will be.”

Mr O’Brien said the response to the Ukrainian crisis was “separate and additional” to the Government’s Housing for All plan adding “it is not and should not be displacing existing targets”.