Plan to house Ukrainian refugees on cruise ship in Dublin port turned down

New figures show low numbers of pledged housing are suitable for Ukrainian refugees

A proposal to house hundreds of Ukrainian refugees on a luxury cruise ship docked in Dublin Port was turned down by department officials due to concerns about the plan impacting the port’s capacity.

The Department of Children and Equality, which is leading the State’s response to house Ukrainian refugees, decided against the idea over fears berthing the large ship could impact on the port’s normal business.

Co Clare company Ml Hospitality Limited offered to provide the Government with the option to lease a large luxury cruise ship in the weeks after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which it said could temporarily house several hundred refugees.

Public relations consultant Paul Allen approached senior officials about the proposal, according to a register of lobbying activity. The plan was intended to provide temporary shelter as an alternative to large numbers of refugees having to stay on the floors of community halls.


A department spokesman said officials had “decided against this proposal”, in part on the advice of the Department of Transport who had warned “berthing cruise ships of this size at Dublin Port would have a negative impact on overall port capacity and on other port business”.

More than 1,000 Ukrainians were housed on a 10-deck cruise ship docked in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, in April.

Meanwhile, figures obtained by The Irish Times show a large portion of the housing offered by the public to place Ukrainian refugees into has not been viable.

From an initial 25,000 pledges of housing, the Irish Red Cross has identified 2,800 vacant homes and 6,600 spare rooms in shared homes that department officials are in the process of referring to local authorities to house refugees.

In many cases housing passed to councils has not been used to house Ukrainians, as in some cases homeowners backed out or the properties were not suitable.

Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council said of a list of 127 pledged properties from the public it was sent just 16 had been deemed suitable and matched with Ukrainians so far.

The council said a number of the homeowners had withdrawn their offers or had not been contactable, while some of the properties were not yet ready to house people.

Dublin City Council said of 74 pledged properties it received from the department just 21 were deemed suitable to house refugees after inspections. Fingal County Council were given details of 106 pledged properties yet only 36 were suitable.

Of 100 properties offered in Kerry the local authority said 14 were due to be used to house Ukrainians, while discussions were ongoing with 15 other homeowners. In nearly half of the cases the council had not been able to contact the hosts or the homeowners had changed their minds, while 25 properties were unsuitable due to their location.

In Cork City Council 46 properties have been reviewed by the local authority, but nine of the offers were withdrawn and 11 were located into Cork County Council’s territory.

Three vacant homes were inspected and deemed suitable, while council staff are inspecting 23 homes where hosts have offered to put refugees up in spare rooms. “Based on the inspections undertaken to date it is unlikely all of these properties will be deemed suitable,” a council spokeswoman said.

In Waterford 82 out of 104 pledged properties identified by the department were deemed viable, with Ukrainians moved into 24 of the homes to date.

Overall, 500 properties from the pledging process have been used to house around 1,500 refugees, with a target to house 6,000 people by the end of the summer.

Jack Power

Jack Power

Jack Power is acting Europe Correspondent of The Irish Times