Only 11 of Dublin city household offers to host Ukrainians move forward

In most cases of accommodation offered, Garda vetting required to host children not completed

Offers from just 11 Dublin city households to share their homes with Ukrainian refugees have been sent on to Dublin City Council by the Department of Children.

Numbers of pledged properties, and the balance between vacant and shared homes, vary significantly among the four Dublin local authorities.

The lowest total number of pledges was received by Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council, which was notified of 141 properties offered by the public, comprising 61 shared homes and 80 entire or vacant properties.

A list of 206 properties was sent to Dublin City Council. The vast majority, 195, were vacant properties with just 11 offers to share with existing homeowners.


In contrast, South Dublin County Council received 319 offers of accommodation, the majority of them shared homes, with just 86 vacant. Fingal, which had the largest number of pledges of the four councils at 485, said 311 were offers to share homes.

Many local authorities around the State received what some housing managers have described as a “data dump” in mid-July, with emails detailing large numbers of mostly shared properties. In the majority of cases, Garda vetting required for households hosting children had not been completed, and large numbers of homes, both vacant and shared, were no longer available when councils made contact with owners.

Liam O’Dwyer, secretary general of the Irish Red Cross, which is co-ordinating the Garda vetting process, acknowledged the receipt of large numbers of unvetted pledges by local authorities had caused difficulties for some councils, but the process was “complex”, “elaborate” and very time-consuming, he said.

“The first step was calling the 6,600-6,800 [people who pledged shared accommodation] and sending them a Zoom link so we could do the first part of Garda vetting, which is identification.”

This involves everyone in the household over the age of 16 presenting themselves on Zoom with photo ID. The household is then sent a Garda vetting form, which they must return within 30 days.

“To be fair to the guards, they are turning them around in two days. They send the notification back to us and the families that the process is completed. We update the system. However, it is an elaborate process, and unfortunately there is no other way of doing it,” Mr O’Dwyer said.

“There are all sorts of problems with this. The first problem is when we try to make contact with people for the Zoom call, a lot of them don’t respond. Sometimes they’re away on holidays, sometimes they’re just not around, sometimes they changed their minds.

“Then there’s another group who’ve gone through Zoom but they haven’t filled in the form within the 30 days. Sometimes it can be just one family member that hasn’t filled it in, but the thing can’t progress until everyone has done it, so we have another team ringing all those people just to see how they’re getting on.”

Ad hoc systems

The difficulty was compounded by “ad hoc groups” placing people in homes outside the State system. “We don’t have any issue with that. We’re delighted people find accommodation, but clearly there’s no Garda vetting or any of that. When we eventually ring them back, we find it’s not that they’re not interested but they have someone already,” he said. “With some people it is that they’ve changed their minds and they do sometimes say ‘My circumstances have changed. You guys have taken too long’.”

Robert Burns, head of housing at Fingal County Council, said given that so few properties sent to the council had been vetted, it would have been better to have received the list earlier.

“Of all the 311 shared properties the department has classified as viable and available, only 28 have Garda vetting done. That’s less than 10 per cent,” he said.

“I have a lot of sympathy for the department because I think it’s very difficult to get this information, but it started to come in in March and we’ve only received details of shared properties on July 14th. That is a frustration for me. That puts pressure on the local authorities. Maybe the lists weren’t perfect, maybe they didn’t have the Garda vetting done, but if we had got that earlier we could have been going through it.”

Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council said of the 141 pledged properties it received, “some withdrew/were not contactable/not suitable”. This left 55, which were “forwarded to be matched, of which 27 were identified as shared. Of the 27 shared sent for matching, 16 are not available currently or have withdrawn”.

South Dublin County Council said it did not have an indication of the number of shared properties that had been vetted.

Dublin City Council said: “The role of local authorities in dealing with the fallout of the Ukrainian refugee crisis is still evolving, and at the moment we are unable to predict its future development.”

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly is Dublin Editor of The Irish Times