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People urged to make unoccupied properties available to Ukrainians in new appeal

There is currently over 5,500 Ukrainians being hosted by people in Ireland.

Integration Minister Roderic O'Gorman
Integration Minister Roderic O'Gorman
Image: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

Updated Nov 24th 2022, 12:38 PM

THE GOVERNMENT IS today appealing to members of the public who own unoccupied properties to make it available to house those fleeing the war in Ukraine. 

Speaking to reporters this morning, Integration Minister Roderic O’Gorman said that the Government was appealing for people to make their unoccupied properties available for Ukrainians for an initial period of six months.

Under the latest scheme, anyone who makes a property available will be granted a recognition payment of €800 a month.

This payment is currently €400 a month and will be doubled from 1 December.

According to O’Gorman, the assessment process will be carried out by individual local authorities

“The assessment process will be undertaken by the local authority and they will be in a position to keep people who are making these offers updated in terms of where there offer is in the assessment process,” O’Gorman said.

Red Cross scheme

O’Gorman says that there are currently 5,500 Ukrainians being hosted through the current Red Cross scheme, which is approximately 10% of all Ukrainians refugees in Ireland.

When asked about the previous scheme, O’Gorman said that the Government had learned from the original Red Cross pledge system.

“I think we’ve recognised that there is, I suppose, local authorities have that on the ground expertise, that on the ground knowledge.

“In terms of, particularly, of new vacant homes, we think we’re seeking to empower the local authorities further to actually be able to do that entire process.”

When asked if pledges for vacant homes will carry over to the new Government portal, O’Gorman confirmed that the pledges would not transfer over.

Refugees Housing 008 Integration Minister Roderic O'Gorman and Housing Minister Darragh O'Brien Source: Sasko Lazarov

He said that anyone who offered vacant accommodation under the Red Cross scheme will have to reapply through the Government’s Offer A Home website.

O’Gorman added that if he were to go back to February, when the war first began in Ukraine, he would have done the scheme differently.

“We’ve learned from that process and this is why we’re bringing in the local authorities for vacant homes from day one.”

The timeline for anyone who offers a property that it will likely be five working days until they will be contacted by their local council. 

An assessment of the property will be carried out by council staff shortly after, according to a statement outlining the details of the new appeal by one local authority. 

Sinéad Breathnach, Waterford City and County Council Ukrainian Refugee Lead said that anyone who owns a property that is going to be empty this winter, they should consider offering it “for those who badly need a safe home for a while”.

She said is it well understood that “it can be daunting to offer a property to someone you don’t know”, but that dedicated council staff will work with owners throughout the process and be there to offer support while your property is being used.

ESRI

The Government’s appeal comes as new research shows that 6,494 applications for international protection were lodged in Ireland from January to June of this year, a significant increase compared to the 2,235 pre-pandemic applications in the first half of 2019.

The research from the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) identifies key reasons for the increase in applications in Ireland in 2022 and finds that it is likely a confluence of several factors.

While a small number of international protection applications were from Ukrainian nationals, the vast majority fleeing Ukraine have applied for temporary protection in Ireland and are not international protection applicants.

Travel restrictions throughout the Covid-19 pandemic significantly reduced international migration for two years, however a sharp jump in applications from February 2022 onwards may indicate a form of ‘catch-up migration’.

Knock-on effects of the war in Ukraine on neighbouring countries and on socio-economic conditions in many other countries may also be contributing to the increase in Ireland.

Conditions and conflict in other countries are significant factors in the recent increase.

The research identifies that for many of the top nationalities applying for international protection in Ireland (including Somali, Afghan, Ukrainian, Egyptian and Georgian), conditions and conflict in countries of origin are important drivers.

Applications from these nationalities are increasing not only in Ireland, but across Europe.

Commenting on the report to Morning Ireland, Minister O’Gorman said Ireland needs to “change our infrastructure from one that’s undertaking a short, kind of immediate, term response as it is right now to one that’s able to address this into the future”. 

O’Gorman said the Government will look to advance the building of reception and integration centres. 

“We need to increase the amount of State accommodation that we can provide for people arriving in this country to move away from the reliance on the private sector, on hotels,” he said. 

When asked why many people from Georgia are fleeing to Ireland, O’Gorman said a second piece of research is being conducted “to interview people who are coming to this country to get an in depth and understanding of their reasons for picking Ireland”. 

“International protection is a process there for people fleeing war and conflict, and it has to be just for that, we have to protect it for that.”

The ESRI research was funded by the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth (DCEDIY).

With reporting by Jamie McCarron, Eoghan Dalton and Tadgh McNally

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