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Wednesday 1 February 2023 Dublin: 8°C
The Citywest accommodation centre is full.
# refugee crisis
Ukrainian ambassador says lack of accommodation is 'unacceptable'
43 Ukrainian men have been told that there is no accommodation available.

LAST UPDATE | Oct 23rd 2022, 2:21 PM

THE UKRAINIAN AMBASSADOR to Ireland Larysa Gerasko has criticised the government’s failure to provide accommodation to incoming refugees, saying it was “unacceptable”.

Speaking on RTÉ’s This Week programme, Gerasko said that as far as she knew, the government was “working on a plan”, but that the situation was “not acceptable”.

“It’s unacceptable for us because, of course we are worrying about our people,” she said.

“And they bought tickets, they arrived in Ireland, so might be better to announce the lack of or absence of their accommodation in advance.”

Gerasko was responding after 10 more Ukrainian men were told last night that there was no accommodation available for them. This follows on from Friday night, when 33 Ukrainian men were told that there was no accommodation.

A spokesperson for the Department of Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth said:

“A further 10 people, all single males, were informed yesterday that no accommodation was available and asked to provide contact details for when it does become available.” 

Minister for Foreign Affair Simon Coveney also spoke to RTÉ, saying that he had spoken with Gerasko last week and informed her of the pressure the government was under.

“I went to explain that we were under a lot of pressure in terms of accommodation,” he said.

“And that’s, that’s a constant conversation that the government will have with with Ukrainian embassy here, and it will continue.”

Coveney also agreed that it was not acceptable that Ukrainians arriving here were not being offered accommodation. 

“The line here is it’s not acceptable for people to flee a conflict. To come to Ireland, and not to have anywhere to go,” he said.

And so we need to get on top of that as a government. And we need to stay in close contact with the Ukrainian ambassador and the Ukrainian community here to ensure that they understand the pressures and the timelines around how we can resolve those pressures.

The minster said that this weekend the government been “somewhat caught out in the context of the numbers that have come over the last few weeks”.

We need to respond to that as a government now and we will.

 “He doesn’t know what to do”

 Speaking to RTÉ News yesterday, some Ukrainian men talked about the difficulties they were facing, and confirmed they had slept in Dublin Airport on Friday night.

The men were interviewed outside the Capuchin Day Centre, where they were being provided with food and care. 

Speaking through a translator, one man said that he “doesn’t know what to do, he doesn’t know where to start with and he’s just in despair”.

Minister for State Thomas Byrne earlier today apologised that the government had been unable to provide accommodation for new arrivals over the last few nights.

“Yes we haven’t managed to do it in the last couple of nights for those people… and I’m very, very sorry about that,” he told RTÉ’s The Week in Politics.

He said that the Irish government was “doing its best” and had done “huge work as a state, as a government, as a people”. 

Byrne said said that the Irish government had a legal obligation to provide accommodation and subsistence, if needed, to refugees, and that “there was no running away from that”. 

Yesterday 

Yesterday, it was confirmed that coalition leaders will meet tomorrow to discuss the accommodation shortage. Taoiseach Micheál Martin told reporters yesterday evening that increasing the €400 monthly payment given to households who are accommodating Ukrainians is “on the table”. 

Departments will come forward with a “range of measures”, including the payment increase, he told The Journal.

“That’s something that’s on the table though,” the Taoiseach said, adding: “I don’t have a specific amount now”. 

Martin also defended the government’s record:

“The state has been remarkably fast, I would argue, in terms of responding to a wartime situation the worst humanitarian crisis in in Europe since the Second World War.

“I mean, we’ve witnessed the displacement of well over six million people,” he said – adding that Ireland had responded “in an extraordinary way, an unprecedented way in terms of the sheer numbers we’ve already accommodated – up to 55,000 Ukrainians have come into the country.

“We never before ever had to accommodate so many people in such a short space of time, as we have done now and it’s because we’re in a war-time situation there is no other explanation for it,” he said.

It was also confirmed that as of Monday measures will be put in place at Dublin Airport to allow people to remain there overnight.

The crisis around accommodation for refugees came to light earlier this week, when Integration Minister Roderic O’Gorman was unable to confirm that refugees would not be forced to sleep on the streets due to the lack of accommodation. 

This statement came after the Citywest facility was closed to new arrivals on Thursday, due to a lack of capacity.

With reporting from Tadhg McNally 

Author
Cormac Fitzgerald and Christina Flynn
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