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Minister Catherine Martin Sam Boal

Minister asks sports bodies to help provide refugee accommodation during 'time of extreme need'

Sports Minister Catherine Martin has written to over 70 sporting bodies and organisations to seek assistance.

SPORTS MINISTER CATHERINE Martin has written to over 70 sporting bodies and organisations seeking further assistance in finding accomodation to house refugees.

In a letter sent on Friday, the minister said Ireland is currently facing significant challenges in meeting the accommodation needs and has entered an “extremely difficult phase”.

While she said the sport sector “has assisted greatly” with providing temporary accommodation by supplying such venues including Croke Park, the Aviva Stadium and the National Sports Campus as well as individual club facilities being offered around the country, “vacant buildings that could be used to accommodate people and which can be made available very quickly”.

Her letter comes just a day after Integration Minister Roderic O’Gorman wrote to all ministers asking them to consult their department officials about using large vacant buildings for housing refugees.

Martin’s letter said she was very appreciative of the “fantastic work” that has taken place across the sporting sector in welcoming refugees and integrating them into their new communities, particularly through active encouragement to participate in sporting activity.

“We are now once more asking the Irish sports sector to consider any possible accommodation assistance that can be offered. The Government is urgently seeking facilities in all vacant buildings that could be used to accommodate people and which can be made available very quickly,” she said.

The government is asking to utilise available large buildings owned by organisations, clubs or members with a capacity of 50-100 or greater for sheltering new arrivals in the immediate term.

The ideal type of premises would have a large halls where camp beds and mattresses could be set out, especially sports centres with access to showers but also conference facilities, arts centres, student leisure centres, and other large buildings deemed safe to use.

“Facilities can be located anywhere in the country and the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth can provide facilities management and NGO support in such buildings,” the minister wrote.

“We therefore ask for any assistance you, your organisation or your members can give in providing these buildings for immediate use and to respond with any offers via email to . We are also writing to all other sporting NGBs and Federations with the same request.

“This is a time of extreme need, and we are confident that the sporting sector won’t be found wanting in assisting those most in need of shelter.”

Additional reporting by Lauren Boland

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