An estimated 200 Ukrainian refugees in a hotel in west Dublin, including 83 children, have been notified by a Government agency they are to be resettled in unspecified locations within two weeks.
It is understood that the reason for the move is due to a scarcity of accommodation for international protection applicants.
The manner of notification to the residents of the Ibis Hotel in Clondalkin of their planned resettlement was criticised by local Sinn Féin TD Eoin Ó Broin on Tuesday as an “unacceptable” way to deal with traumatised people who had fled the Russian war on Ukraine.
Many of the refugees had achieved “some semblance of normality” over several months and had now been informed, without any consultation, they were to be moved within two weeks, he said. The authorities, he said, should engage with Ukraine Civil Society Forum and the South Dublin County Partnership (SDCP) with a view to minimising disruption to the lives of the refugees.
Larry O’Neill, chief executive of the SDCP, which has been working alongside other organisations in helping the refugees, mainly women and children, urged they be permitted stay until after Christmas, noting many of the children are settled in local schools.
“These poor people should not be herded around the country like animals, they should be consulted and informed about plans to move them and should not be moved before Christmas. Many of the children are settled in local schools with books and uniforms, at least let them stay until after a natural break in the school year.”
Mr O’Neill said he understands there is a war and a housing crisis, that the Ukrainians will be moved to alternative accommodation, the hotel accommodation will be provided for international protection applicants and the public servants involved are “doing their best”.
It is important that Ukrainian refugees already here should be treated “in a human fashion”, he stressed. In light of that, it “may be time” for the Government to look again at its policy and say the State simply cannot take in any more Ukrainians, he said.
The DSCP will support the refugees in every way it can in relation to the proposed move, he stressed.
All Ukrainian residents of the hotel were sent a letter this week from the government’s Ukraine Crisis Temporary Accommodation Team (UCTAT) concerning the planned resettlement of refugees.
Written in Ukrainian and addressed to “beneficiaries of temporary protection” living in the hotel, the letter stated the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, is responsible for providing temporary accommodation for temporary protection holders coming here according to the European Union Temporary Protection Directive and who had indicated they need support in obtaining accommodation.
The recipients were informed the accommodation where they currently live is “temporary” and the Government has to relocate them to other accommodation. The letter referred to “a huge lack of accommodation” and said it is necessary to guarantee that new arrivals will “not be left without a roof over their head”.
It stated that, unfortunately, on November 28th, the Government had to relocate the residents from the hotel, the department would soon let the residents know about alternative offers of accommodation and asked that the residents note it is “impossible” to find the same level of accommodation in the same area where they currently live. This is a challenge facing Irish society now, the letter stated.
The Government has appointed two non-governmental organisations, the Irish Red Cross and/or Peter McVerry Trust, who would come to the hotel and help arrange alternative accommodation for the residents, the letter said. The residents, it said, could live in private houses, which was often more long term than hotels or guest houses and UCTAT staff would assist in supporting the refugees in transitioning to independent residence.
Speaking to The Irish Times on Tuesday afternoon, Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien said he was unaware of the details of the situation of these particular refugees but would discuss it with the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth Roderic O’Gorman.
The Government wants to ensure people are in secure accommodation which involved, inter alia, entering contracts with hotels, sourcing more sustainable accommodation and the refurbishment of older properties, he outlined.
No one, he said, foresaw the scale of what the State would be dealing with. More than 60,000 Ukrainians have been accommodated and another 15,000 people fleeing other war zones are seeking international protection, he noted. “While he believed the Government has done reasonably well since March in addressing the situation, he said there “will always be challenges in this regard as to how we can accommodate and how the State can support”.