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Leah Farrell
accommodation crisis

McGrath: 'Plea for large buildings to house refugees reflects the strain the system is under'

Integration Minister Roderic O’Gorman has made an urgent plea to his colleagues for accommodation assistance.

THE URGENT PLEA from Integration Minister Roderic O’Gorman to his ministerial colleagues to find large buildings and facilities to house refugees “is a reflection of the strain the system is under”, according to the finance minister. 

In a letter to his ministerial colleagues, O’Gorman asked for sports centres, conference facilities, arts centres, student leisure centres and any other large buildings that are “deemed safe” to house refugees.

“What is needed are large halls where camp beds, mattresses, sleeping bags could be set out for people,” O’Gorman said in the letter to all ministers.

Michael McGrath told The Journal this morning that he had received the letter from his Cabinet colleague. 

“It is becoming increasingly difficult to source new accommodation for people who are continuing to come to Ireland,” said the finance minister.

The letter from O’Gorman, seen by The Journal, states that the his department is “currently facing significant challenges in meeting the accommodation needs” of those arriving into Ireland. 

‘Urgent assistance’

In his plea, he states that vacant buildings that can be used immediately are needed. 

“I am asking for your urgent assistance in sourcing from your sector or stakeholders, any large building (capacity 50-100 or greater) that can be utilised by my department to shelter new arrivals in the immediate terms. 

“What is needed are large halls where camp beds, mattresses, sleeping bags could be set out for people… the sort of facilities that are envisaged are sports centres, which have access to showers, but also conference facilities, arts centres, student leisure centres any other large buildings that are deemed safe for use…”. 

He goes on to state that facilities can be located “anywhere in the country”. 

The Citywest transit hub paused its acceptance of new entrants on 24 January, and remains paused, the letter stated.

Public Debt 003 Sam Boal Sam Boal

McGrath said this morning that “there’s no doubt that every minister will continue to assess the property portfolio of state bodies and agents to see how they could possibly provide assistance”.

The State is now providing accommodation for well over 74,000 people, primarily from Ukraine and others seeking international protection, said the finance minister, adding that this situation can only be addressed through a whole of government approach. 

When asked if the Department of Finance will assess it’s property portfolio for any vacant buildings that could be used, McGrath said he will engage with his officials but anticipates, given the nature of his department, and its “limited” property footprint that it would not be in the position to offer accommodation.

“Other departments would have a much wider footprint throughout the country in relation to public buildings but that’s not really relevant to my own department,” he said.

Additional reporting by Tadgh McNally

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