Sunday, July 31, 2022

David Young and Michelle Devane, PA

The Government has approached the largest sporting bodies to seek further help accommodating the recent influx of refugees.

Last week, about 100 Ukrainian refugees were temporarily housed at the Aviva Stadium as the State struggles to find enough emergency beds for those fleeing the war.

It is understood the refugees were put up on camp beds at the stadium for one week.

The Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media has now confirmed that the largest sporting organisations have been contacted about similar short-term accommodation options.

Russian invasion of Ukraine
The Old Central Terminal building at Dublin Airport where a new processing facility for Ukrainian refugees has been set up (Brian Lawless/PA)

A spokeswoman for the department said: “The department made contact with the FAI, GAA, IRFU and Sport Ireland to seek their assistance, on behalf of the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth (DCEDIY), in providing emergency short-term accommodation for people seeking humanitarian shelter in Ireland.

“The organisations responded positively to the request and any accommodation offers arising were the subject of direct engagement by DCEDIY with the sports organisations.”

There are currently no plans for the arrangement at the Aviva to be extended, but it is believed similar arena-style sporting facilities will be considered for emergency shelter use in the coming months.

It emerged earlier this month that the State had run out of accommodation for arriving Ukrainian refugees – resulting in Ukrainians being temporarily housed in tents at the Gormanston military camp in Co Meath where 60 refugees were housed last week.

The old Dublin Airport terminal was also being used for emergency accommodation, but that ceased last Thursday.

To date, Ireland has taken in more than 40,000 refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine – the majority of them are women and children.

Russian invasion of Ukraine
A coach of Ukrainian refugees arrives at Gormanston military camp in Co Meath (Niall Carson/PA)

At present some 32,000 people are being accommodated, the majority of them in serviced accommodation such as hotels, B&Bs and guesthouses.

Every day about 130 more Ukrainian refugees arrive in the country.

Over the summer, the Government used 5,000 student accommodation beds to put up some of the refugees. However, over the coming weeks the number of these beds will reduce as students return to use them for the coming academic year.

Religious buildings, modular homes and vacant properties are some of the other accommodation options being considered by the Government.

Repurposing some vacant buildings for long-term use as homes for refugees is under way, however it is understood it is proving to be a slow process.

Another issue which is proving to be problematic is finding people to run facilities and provide all the support needed – such as catering, maintenance, security and wellbeing provision for long-term residents.

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