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Tuesday 28 March 2023 Dublin: 13°C
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# ukrainians in ireland
Difficult to rule out future use of tents for asylum seekers, says junior Minister
Peter Burke, the Minister of State for European Affairs, said that housing refugees was a ‘wartime situation’.

A FINE GAEL junior minister has said it would be very difficult to guarantee that no refugees will be housed in tents in the future, as Ireland grapples with a continued strain on accommodation due to an influx of people from Ukraine and elsewhere.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio today, Peter Burke, the Minister of State for European Affairs, said that housing refugees was a “wartime situation”.

He said that giving Ukrainians access to the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP), in order to enable them to seek private accommodation instead of state-provided housing, is “not an option at the moment.

“What we’re focusing on is emergency accommodation at the moment trying to bring some derelict buildings back into use that are under state control.

“Being honest with everyone, the prism of which we have to judge this response through is a wartime position. This is the greatest humanitarian crisis Ireland has ever, ever faced in the history of the state.

Minister for Integration Roderic O’Gorman stated last month that tents would no longer be used to house asylum seekers, but this week there are more than 80 such individuals in tented accommodation.

Burke said: “It will be very difficult for anyone to give an assurance that no one will ever be a tent anymore.

“This is a wartime situation and it’s a huge challenge for the government. But it is in the midst of an acute housing crisis as well.”

Independent TD Verona Murphy, speaking on the same programme, said there were already people in her constituency, Wexford, who were homeless and living in tents, though she conceded these people were not being provided with tented accommodation. Rather, she said, “they’re homeless because we can’t cater for them with housing.”

“We’re nearly a year into this war and we haven’t seen one modular home,” Murphy added. “We have money set aside for 700 modular rooms. We’re hearing about the preparation, we’re hearing about where they’re going – where are they?”

Transport Minister Eamon Ryan said this week that 2,800 spaces in modular homes will be delivered shortly and 3,000 refurbished properties should come online in the coming months.

Labour TD Aodhán Ó Riordáin said there was “a lot of negativity” surrounding plans for modular housing in different towns and villages around the country.

In an update to his Cabinet colleagues this week, O’Gorman warned that sourcing accommodation for Ukrainians fleeing the war is becoming increasingly difficult.

There is an expectation that many hotels currently under contract with the Department of Children and Integration for this purpose will revert to tourist trade in March and April.

O’Gorman recommended to the Cabinet that the State needs to reduce its reliance on private providers and develop State-owned accommodation, increase community engagement, and provide improved support for integration.

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