There were an average of 124 Ukrainian refugees arriving daily in Ireland last week while it remains challenging to provide accommodation for those fleeing war, Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth Roderic O’Gorman has said.
Mr O’Gorman added that no hotel has “definitively indicated” they will cease providing accommodation to refugees under the new contracts his Department is offering.
The minister was answering questions in the Dáil on Thursday in relation to accommodation for Ukrainian refugees in light of the tourist season beginning next month.
“My department is in negotiations as contracts expire, with all existing providers to ascertain whether they will continue to provide accommodation for Ukrainians,” Mr O’Gorman said.
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“No provider has definitively indicated ceasing services under the new contracts the department are offering.
“We will keep this under review and continue to procure services for self-catering accommodation where we can, those negotiations are ongoing. It is accepted that some providers will choose to revert to the tourism offering shortly. We are preparing for this.”
Mr O’Gorman added “a significant number” of hotels had signed up to the new contract which was “positive in terms of our ability to maintain existing level of capacity”.
The Dublin West TD said the Government had approved the construction of 700 rapid-build modular homes on State lands, on sites in Cork, Cavan, Tipperary, Sligo and Mayo, for refugees.
Mr O’Gorman said it was planned that all works on the Cavan site would be completed at the beginning of April and people would start to move into those units at the end of that month. He said a “comprehensive communications approach” had been applied for each of the sites.
The minister also acknowledged there had been “an information vacuum” for communities which were welcoming those fleeing war and this had created challenges for TDs.
Mr O’Gorman said the State’s response to the ongoing migration crisis had entered “a difficult phase” with limited accommodation for international protection applicants available in the short to medium term, in particular for single male adults.
He said between December 1st and January 30th, over 1,700 additional spaces had been brought into use.
The minister said the average annual number of people arriving in Ireland seeking international protection in 2018 was 3,500, which had risen to 15,000 people last year.
“In the first month of 2023, more than 1,200 new international protection applicants have sought accommodation from the State,” he said.