The government’s efforts to house Ukrainian refugees is a shambles.
A front-page report in today’s Irish Examiner says the government has paid out €676m averaging €30m per week to hotels, B&Bs, and a number of private providers to accommodate Ukrainian refugees.
79,783 Ukrainians are now living in Ireland according to the most recent data and an average 85 continue to arrive daily.
1,600 are living in private homes arranged by the Red Cross.
A front-page report in the Irish Times says that the OPW ordered 700 modular homes to house 2,800 Ukrainians is having difficulties sourcing suitable sites to locate them. One site that is under consideration has already been earmarked for social housing.
At this stage, there has been several missed targets. The original plan was to have them ready by November. That Deadline passed, and it was postponed until Easter. This target has now been missed.
The last publicly available estimate is €140 million for the first 500 homes. The Government did not offer an updated estimate when the Irish Times asked last week and details in the documents released to the paper were redacted.
A report by Cormac McQuinn in the Irish Times 30 December 2023 warned that deadlines to have phase 1 of the modular homes completed would not be met because of a failure to find suitable sites.
The cost of the first 500 was then estimated at €140 million, up from the original estimate of €100 million. This works out at €280,000 per unit.
Construction firm Sisk is contracted to prepare the sites and install the 700 rapid build modular houses.
A report in today’s Irish Mail says Integration Minister Roderic O’Gorman’s department has ruled out ghost estates as refugee accommodation.
There’s an estimated 75 unfinished housing estates with 40 of these unoccupied scattered around the country. It’s estimated that upgrades to these houses could provide up to 2000 houses at a time when the shortage of accommodation is dire.
The arrival of refugees into communities around the country is creating flashpoints which has the potential to develop into major social unrest in the months ahead.
In recent months we got a glimpse of this social unrest in East Wall, Dublin, Kill, Co. Kildare and Mullingar, Co Westmeath.
A crowd of a couple of hundred gathered in Castlebar’s Market Square on Easter Saturday afternoon at an event organised by a recently formed group called HOME (Holistic Outlook on the Migration Emergency).
A motion was read out and appears to have been unanimously accepted by those present that no more refugees should be accepted in Mayo until such time as those already there are provided with acceptable housing and integrated into communities.
Fine Gael councillor, Tom Connolly told last Monday’s meeting of Mayo County Council that Ukrainian refugees are being ‘bulldozed’ into communities.
‘I am not opposed to people coming but at least let the public representatives be informed with what’s going on. I have got phone calls from different parts of the country where the same bulldozing is going on,’ he said.
Fianna Fáil councillor Damien Ryan told the meeting that Mayo and other rural counties had taken the ‘lion’s share’ and that more balance was needed.
‘I am not opposed to the Ukrainian position and I completely appreciate we have obligations and it needs to be balanced and fair and equitable,’ he said.
‘As a percentage of population, Mayo and some of the rural counties are taking the lion’s share of this provision, being forced upon us from a centralised Government where 12 of the 15 ministers are from urban bases. We are taking the lion’s share of it and that is totally wrong.’
Two other Fine Gael councillors, Donna Sheridan and Jarlath Munnelly, spoke on Mid West Radio last week raising concerns about a lack of communication by the Roderic O’ Gorman’s Department of Integration before refugees are moved into a local area.
The cabinet has definitely lost the dressing room when we see Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael Councillors speaking out in those terms against the government’s policy on accommodating refugees.
On 22 June 2022, Minister for Housing, Darragh O’Brien pulled out the race card in the Dáil when Independent TD Carol Nolan questioned him about the crisis in accommodating refugees.
“I am convinced that if we do not learn to find some way of exploring in a grown-up, pragmatic and constructive way the links between unsustainable levels of inward migration or asylum into this State and housing, then we will never find a meaningful solution to an already overwhelming crisis,” she said.
O’Brien disgracefully responded by saying: “I respectfully suggest that the Deputy’s comments this afternoon pose a risk to social cohesion. I want to be very clear on behalf of the Government. response….. Government has been very clear, particularly regarding our response to our friends from Ukraine.
We will take in as many Ukrainian citizens fleeing the brutal war foisted upon them through no fault of their own as we must. We will not introduce any caps in that regard.”
Having no caps on the number of refugees entering the country is about the only promise that the minister has kept. The problem is that there is no place to provide them with reasonable accommodation.
Prepare for a summer of major social discontent.