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Tuesday 26 September 2023 Dublin: 11°C
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Ukrainian women and children moved from Kerry to Mayo at short notice
The group of Ukrainians, which include dozens of school-going children, received less than 48 hours’ notice they are to be bussed to Westport

OVER 100 UKRAINIAN women and children in a Killarney Hotel since last March have been told they are being moved to Co Mayo tomorrow to make way for almost 200 international protection applicants from City West, Dublin.

The Ukrainian community of 135 people in the Killarney hotel, including up to 40 school-going children received less than 48 hours’ notice they are to be bussed to Westport.

The children attend St Oliver’s National School nearby and several of the women have jobs in the town.

Moving asylum seekers into a hotel and moving out Ukrainian refugees who’ve been there since March “does not make any sense”, the mayor of Killarney has told a meeting of community leaders, calling for a reversal of the decision to move out a well-settled community.

Some 16 nationalities are among the 192 males who are seeking international protection, including from Libya, Algeria, Iran and Georgia. They were bussed to Hotel Killarney on Saturday from City West.

Two Algerian men this reporter spoke with outside the hotel said they had arrived in Dublin last month. 

The Killarney hotel, formerly known also as the Killarney Ryan Hotel, has accommodation for around 500 in a variety of accommodation, including a hostel.

It has closed to tourists and will now being used for International Protection rather than for temporary accommodation for the 135 Ukrainians.

The Ukrainian residents were informed verbally on Friday night they were being moved and then formally, in writing, on Monday at 3pm.

The mayor of Killarney has called for a reversal of the decision by IPAS, the international protection agency.


He has also called for health and other supports for Killarney which is now hosting large numbers of asylum seekers and Ukrainians.

An emergency meeting took place last night at the hotel attended by Brendan Griffin, TD, the asylum seeker representative body KASI, and school principals as well as Ukrainian representatives.

“We want that decision reversed. How does it make sense we would remove people here since March in order to install others?” Niall  Kelleher, mayor of Killarney said.

IPAS is moving people “like pawns on a chessboard,” he added.

Extra tourist properties have come on stream in Killarney now that the high tourist season is past, and the Ukrainians could be accommodated in those premises, if their hotel was becoming a direct provision centre, he also said. 

There are now around 2,000 Ukrainians in Killarney (population 14,000) along with hundreds more in direct provision.

However no extra supports have been provided for Killarney in terms of health or other basic needs for a residential population.

“We are struggling with the numbers of people coming to the town. We have beds but in Kerry we have in excess now of 5,000 Ukrainian refugees,” Kelleher said.

“We need the extra provision in health and other services for the increase in population. We need a temporary increase in GMS to work alongside existing doctors in Killarney.”

Health including mental health services were already under strain before the arrival of the refugees, Kelleher added.

Meanwhile, a source at the hotel said the Ukrainian women at the Killarney Hotel are simply distraught.

Several are working including seven at the hotel itself. Others are working in businesses in the town centre.

The mayor has now written to children’s minister Roderic O’Gorman calling for the decision to be reversed.

In the Dáil Brendan Griffin TD described the removal of women and children from Killarney where they have been living with seven months as “an outrageous proposal”.

It was not humane to remove them with 48 hours’ notice, Griffin said this afternoon.

“If we are treating this emergency as a humanitarian response, there has to be humanity at the centre of it,” Griffin said

Minister’s response

Minister Roderic O’Gorman said because of the numbers of international protection applicants and increased numbers of Ukrainians arriving, his Department was under pressure.

He absolutely accepted there would be an impact, he told the Kerry TD.

However “fundamentally” his department had to provide accommodation for all applicants for international protection and had to take up offers of accommodation where they could, he said in the Dáil.

Speaking earlier on the News At One, on RTÉ, O’Gorman also said his Department was looking at the possibility of “pledged accommodation”.

However it has emerged that the numbers of pledged accommodation in Killarney is just 25 and it is not clear if all these are still available.

In a statement the Department of Children on behalf of IPAS said:

“Ireland is now accommodating 55,000 people between those fleeing Ukraine (Beneficiaries of Temporary Protection, or BOTPs) and International Protection applicants. This compares to 7,500 at this time last year.”

“The accommodation in Killarney referred to was previously successful in applying to host International Protection applicants. As an interim measure, BOTPs were accommodated there.

“There is now a severe shortage of accommodation for International Protection applicants and, as such, the accommodation in Killarney is required in order to prevent International Applicants from entering homelessness.

“BOTPs have been offered alternative accommodation in Westport, and are also eligible for pledged accommodation options. There are 25 pledged accommodation units reported available in Killarney. Kerry County Council have been working with Peter Mc Verry to encourage the take up of pledges.

“The Department is cognisant of the impact such moves have on those affected, and work to ensure these only take place where absolutely necessary. We are now working with our implementing partners and accommodation providers to make this move as easy and efficient as possible.”

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