Modular housing for Ukrainian refugees in Longford and Laois spark debate

Modular housing for Ukrainian refugees in Longford and Laois spark debate

Updated: 1 month, 24 days, 20 hours, 26 minutes, 45 seconds ago

Longford and Laois are the latest counties added to the list to receive modular housing to accommodate Ukrainian refugees.

The Government currently has plans for modular homes to house Ukrainians in Cavan, Tipperary, Sligo, Cork and Mayo.

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Overall, there will be 206 modular homes built across these five counties. There were also plans for modular homes in Kildare, but after strong protests from locals these plans were abandoned.

Longford and Laois are the latest counties added to the list to receive modular housing to accommodate Ukrainian refugees. Pic: Darragh O'Molloy

There are now local media reports confirming that the Office of Public Works is actively looking at sites in Longford and Laois.

A spokesman for the Department of Integration confirmed the reports to Extra.ie. It is understood that the OPW has picked the old greyhound track in Longford town as its preferred site for up to 40 modular build homes for Ukrainians.

However, Gerry Warnock, an Independent councillor from the town, is opposed to this location, calling it 'lazy'. He insisted he had no problem with Ukrainians coming to Longford, but said the old Army barracks was more suitable given there were preliminary plans to redevelop the greyhound park site as a skate park. He said: 'We were informed at the last meeting that the OPW had been in touch with council officials and they were looking for potential sites in relation to modular homes in response to the humanitarian crisis.'

Mr Warnock said there could be between 20 to 40 modular homes built on the site, but he called for consultation with locals and councillors, adding: 'It's not anti-refugee or anti-modular. It's all to do with the suitability of the site.'

It comes as it emerged that up to 30 modular homes could be built in Rathdowney, Co. Laois. Fine Gael councillor John King, who represents the area, said he was in favour of the move. The 11-acre site is believed to be owned by the Land Development Agency.

micheal martinTaoiseach Micheal Martin said the Ukrainian issue required a 'whole-of-Government' response. Pic: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

Mr King said: 'They came down there a few weeks ago and they were doing test holes on the site. If the tests show the site is suitable the plan is to put up to 30 modular homes on part of the site.'

Sewerage and other site works would then have to take place before modular homes could be put in place on the site.

Mr King added: 'Regarding the influx of 120 women and children, the schools would be able to take the extra children. Between the school and the crèche they are under capacity.'

Asked about the issue in Longford on Friday, the Taoiseach said it was a matter for the local council and the OPW to figure out which land was best. Micheál Martin also defended the Department of Housing, which many councils have said is not pulling its weight in helping to deal with accommodating Ukrainians. 'The Department of Housing has been involved,' said Mr Martin, adding that it was working with local councils to help identify land and housing.

The Taoiseach also said the Ukrainian issue required a 'whole-of-Government' response.

A spokesman for the Department of Integration said almost 60,000 Ukrainians had now arrived in Ireland as a result of the war. Pic: Shutterstock

Sources in Limerick indicated that discussions were ongoing between OPW officials and council officials but nothing was confirmed yet, while Louth County Council is said to have 50 acres of available land, some of which is likely to be used for modular housing.

A spokesman for the Department of Integration said almost 60,000 Ukrainians had now arrived in Ireland as a result of the war. He said: 'The Government has approved the construction of 500 rapid-build homes, which will aim to provide accommodation to 2,000 individuals in family units.'

He added: 'The rapid-build homes will be constructed on State-owned land. To identify sites, the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage sought information from public authorities on potential sites in their ownership, which might be suitable for the installation of rapid-build homes.

'On foot of the responses received, the department provided a shorter list of potentially suitable sites… including sites in Laois and Longford.' The department is currently rolling out the first rapid-build homes in Cork, Cavan, Tipperary, Sligo and Mayo.

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