Scouting Ireland to provide 160 hostel beds for Ukrainian refugees

Government asked organisation to provide ‘urgent assistance’ as accommodation fills up

Scouting Ireland has committed to housing up to 162 Ukrainian refugees in hostels it owns, including at one property on the youth organisation's main Larch Hill campsite near the Dublin-Wicklow border.

The organisation has offered hostel accommodation at three of its scout centres, traditionally used for overnight trips by scout groups, for use as “immediate emergency accommodation”.

The hostels are located on its Larch Hill site in Tibradden, as well as in Lough Dan, Co Wicklow, and Killaloe, Co Clare.

Over the last week the organisation has been in talks with the Department of Children, Equality and Integration about providing the accommodation for refugees.

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More than 22,500 Ukrainian refugees have arrived in the State fleeing the conflict with Russia, with numbers expected to continue rising.

There is concern in Government that capacity in hotels and bed and breakfasts is nearly exhausted, meaning temporary tented accommodation in emergency reception facilities is likely to be needed in the near future.

In a statement to The Irish Times, Pat Kidney, chairman of Scouting Ireland, said the youth organisation had contacted the Government and Irish Red Cross as it recognised "the emergency we are now in".

Mr Kidney said the accommodation would be a “safe and a comfortable environment” for incoming refugees. “While not a long-term solution, we are pleased to be able to help alleviate the immediate pressure for accommodation,” he said.

Summer camping

While the hostel accommodation will be used by refugees, Mr Kidney said the scout centres would remain open to Scouting Ireland groups for camping over the summer months.

Refugees staying in the hostels will be told to avoid entering camping areas on the sites if they are being used by scout groups, while scout groups will be instructed to avoid indoor areas.

In a message to members on Thursday night, Mr Kidney said the organisation was “fortunate” to be able to offer temporary housing to more than 160 people.

Department officials had contacted the voluntary organisation late last week “requesting we provide urgent assistance by making our hostels available as immediate emergency accommodation for incoming refugees”, he said.

This would help “alleviate the shortage of beds available” for Ukrainian refugees across the country, he said.

“We have all watched in horror the atrocities taking place in Ukraine and we have been moved by the plight of the Ukrainian people forced to flee their homeland,” he told members.

The organisation would provide support to help those staying in the hostels integrate into nearby communities, he added.

A facilities management company contracted by the department, Allpro Services, would be responsible for managing the hostel accommodation.

Jack Power

Jack Power

Jack Power is a reporter with The Irish Times