Pledges to accommodate Ukrainian refugees to be made online through councils in bid to ease pressure on housing

Minister overseeing process says department has learned from difficulties and delays

Minister for Children and Integration Roderic O’Gorman is hopeful that a new initiative to be announced today will make more accommodation available for Ukrainian families arriving into the country.

Mr O’Gorman told RTÉ Radio’s Morning Ireland that his department had learned from the difficulties and delays experienced in the pledged accommodation process and the new initiative encouraging people to make unoccupied homes available will be processed through local authorities.

Pledges will be made online through local authorities and anyone who participates will be able to monitor the status of their offer online, he said. Providing accommodation for the 64,000 Ukrainians who arrived in Ireland in the past months has been “a significant challenge”.

The recent “weaponisation of winter” by Russia with the targeting of infrastructure and bombing of a children’s hospital had highlighted the need to provide shelter. When asked about protests at ESB premises in East Wall, the Minister said he would be meeting residents to explain what was happening.

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He added that he agreed with a comment from the Tánaiste that no community could have a veto. Delays in payments to a number of hotels that had provided accommodation to Ukrainians were being processed, with extra staff allocated to clear the backlog, he said.

Mr O’Gorman said that the State will have to look at building its own permanent reception centres to ease reliance on hotels. This could require planning changes, which will be examined.

The possibility of one State agency to take responsibility would also need to be examined, but at present a Cabinet subcommittee would continue to bring together a “whole of Government” response.

On the issue of the growing numbers of asylum seekers from Georgia arriving in Ireland seeking international protection, Mr O’Gorman said that research was being conducted to find a “direct understanding” of the reasons for coming to Ireland. Speeding up the application process would help, he added.

Vivienne Clarke

Vivienne Clarke is a media monitor and reporter