State may suspend signing of new hotel contracts for Ukrainians as arrivals drop

Government to terminate contracts with unsuitable providers under plans being considered

The Government could suspend the signing of new contracts with hotels to accommodate people fleeing the war in Ukraine, under proposals considered by senior Ministers on Thursday.

A revised accommodation strategy is being drawn up by the Department of Integration, including a plan to terminate contracts for “unsuitable accommodation”, according to a briefing paper for Cabinet ministers.

Ministers were told that a drop-off in the number of people coming from Ukraine and an increase in those leaving State-provided accommodation means that new arrivals are being allocated vacant beds in existing accommodation.

The paper outlines that the department now “intends to pause” accepting new offers of commercial accommodation – understood to include hotels, B&Bs and similar settings – through its dedicated portal for receiving offers. The decision is not final and will be kept under review.


Despite an overall shortage of accommodation for asylum seekers and refugees, ministers have been told that the situation in housing Ukrainians is considerably less pressing than previously – although pressures remain acute for those seeking international protection.

The policy, if it comes to pass, would be part of cementing a policy shift with regard to Ukrainians, alongside proposals agreed by the Government to time-limit the accommodation offering and slash welfare entitlements.

Ministers met on Thursday and were told that the numbers of people arriving from Ukraine has dropped considerably since the Government indicated it would tighten the conditions being offered – with legislation giving effect to the changes currently working its way through the Oireachtas.

Ministers also discussed the recent protests in Roscrea, with some sources suggesting there were frustrations over how it was handled – although other Coalition figures disputed that characterisation.

A briefing paper for the Cabinet subcommittee on Ukraine outlined that the number of people granted temporary protection up to January 22nd was 796 – compared to a total of 2,150 in December last year. Alongside this, Ukrainians are now leaving accommodation at a higher rate to seek independent lodgings, return to Ukraine or travel elsewhere.

The meeting was told that the Department of Integration is drafting a revised strategy to consolidate its accommodation strategy, which will include terminating contracts with “unsuitable accommodation”, divesting smaller serviced properties and focusing instead on refurbished buildings, modular accommodation, self-catering, pledged and “offer a home” options.

The department is planning to “pause the offers portal for future commercial accommodation given sufficient vacancies”, with suitable offers already dwindling, although it will remain open to offers for modular accommodation.

Ministers were told that vacancies emerging within existing accommodation contracted by the Department of Integration are currently sufficient for the level of demand for people fleeing Ukraine.

A halt to accepting new offers of accommodation would represent a significant change to the government’s policy, which has so far been focused on a scramble to find enough beds for both Ukrainians and asylum seekers from elsewhere.

While sources suggested those offering accommodation for use by Ukranians would likely be redirected in an effort to sign them up to providing accommodation for international protection applicants, it is believed there would be less enthusiasm among property owners as opposition to asylum seeker accommodation has been significantly more entrenched around the country.

Meanwhile the Government is working to open several “arrival centres” for Ukrainians. The Coalition is working on a wider plan to replace private sector accommodation with state-owned or leased centres, although Minister for Integration Roderic O’Gorman has indicated it will be some time before this policy is fully rolled out and private settings are no longer needed.

  • Sign up for push alerts and have the best news, analysis and comment delivered directly to your phone
  • Find The Irish Times on WhatsApp and stay up to date
  • Our In The News podcast is now published daily – Find the latest episode here
Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times