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The Green Party TD acknowledged that there is a severe lack in available accommodation. Rolling News

Electric Picnic tents for refugees 'can only be a very short term measure', minister says

“It’s important to remind people as well that there is still a war going on,” junior minister Joe O’Brien said.

THE MINISTER OF State for Integration Joe O’Brien has said that the use of tents at the site of Electric Picnic in Stradbally, Co Laois to house Ukrainian refugees can “only be a very short term measure”.

The site, which hosted the Electric Picnic music festival two weeks ago, will be used for a total of six weeks – however O’Brien said that nobody will spend more than three weeks at any one time.

“This is very conscious of the fact that tented accommodation is far from ideal,” O’Brien said today.

“It is going to offer people safety and security for a period of time, but we’re very conscious that it can only be a very short term measure,” he added.

Last week, Minister for Integration Roderic O’Gorman said he could not rule out the use of tented accommodation in the future as the government faces pressure ahead of the autumn period.

O’Brien said today that he was “staying in close contact with the officials” to arrange additional emergency accommodation and said that the department and O’Gorman had responded “extraordinarily” over the last number of months.

The department signed a contract last week which has allowed them to house up to 750 people after accommodation options, for those fleeing the war, have reached capacity.

The site became available one week ago, and the department said it aimed to have the tents at full capacity by Thursday. 

vip-tents-seen-during-a-media-preview-of-the-electric-picnic-festival-at-stradbally-in-co-laois-picture-date-tuesday-august-30-2022 Tents at the site in Stradbally, Co Laois were originally used for the Electric Picnic music festival. Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

Speaking to reporters this afternoon the junior minister said: “It’s important to remind people as well that there is still a war going on. There are civilians being killed on a weekly basis.”

While the Green Party TD said the situation was less than ideal, he acknowledged that there is a severe lack in available accommodation.

Student accommodation units had been used, during the summer months, to house many of those who were entering Ireland. Although the units are no longer available due to the academic year beginning.

O’Brien added: “But, we also saw an increase in the number of Ukrainians actually coming here as well, because, I suppose, the onslaught didn’t stop.”

O’Brien added that there are “extraordinary and ongoing efforts” to source new, better and more appropriate accommodations.

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