Simon Coveney admits lack of State refugee accommodation ‘not acceptable’

Simon Coveney admits lack of State refugee accommodation ‘not acceptable’

Updated: 3 months, 6 days, 15 hours, 21 minutes, 16 seconds ago

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney has admitted the Government has been “caught out” this weekend by the increase in the numbers of Ukrainian refugees seeking accommodation.

Mr Coveney added that it was “not acceptable” that refugees were told there was no accommodation for them on their arrival into Ireland.

A total of 43 Ukrainian refugees were left without State accommodation this weekend.

The Ukrainian Ambassador to Ireland Larysa Gerasko has described the lack of accommodation for Ukrainian refugees as “unacceptable”.

Mr Coveney told RTE’s This Week on Sunday that almost 60,000 Ukrainians had been accommodated to date this year.

“What’s happened this weekend is not acceptable,” he said.

“The government is not happy about it. We have a meeting tomorrow to try and put responses in place.

“And this, by the way, is not just the responsibility of one minister.

“It’s the responsibility of us all in government to ensure that we find sufficient accommodation.

He added: “It is no secret that Ireland is being put under huge pressure because of the huge numbers this year…Ireland has never faced a migration crisis like this before.

“And unfortunately this weekend, we have been somewhat caught out in the context of the numbers that have come over the last few weeks.

“We need to respond to that as a government now and we will.”

Ms Gerasko said it would have been better if the Government had informed people in advance that there was not enough beds

“As far as I know the Government is working on on plan,” the Ukrainian Ambassador to Ireland said.

“It’s not acceptable. It’s unacceptable for us, because, of course we are worrying about our people.

“They bought the tickets, they arrived in Ireland…it would be better to to announce the lack of, or absence of, the accommodation in advance.”

Ten more refugees were left without State accommodation in the country on Saturday due to a shortage of emergency beds.

It brings to 43 the number of Ukrainian refugees who have been told over the weekend that there was no accommodation available to them.

It emerged on Saturday that 33 Ukrainian refugees were told on Friday there was no State accommodation available.

It is understood a number of refugees slept in Dublin Airport on Friday night.

A spokesman for the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth told the PA news agency on Sunday: “A further 10 people, all single males, were informed yesterday that no accommodation was available and asked to provide contact details for when it does become available.”

It followed Equality and Integration Minister Roderic O’Gorman admitting on Thursday that the Government could not rule out that Ukrainian refugees will not end up on the streets due to a shortage of accommodation.

Up to 55,000 Ukrainians have arrived in the country since the outbreak of the war in February.

The Taoiseach on Saturday defended the Irish Government’s response to the accommodation shortage.

Micheal Martin said the State had been “remarkably fast” responding to the wave of refugees and asylum seekers entering the country since the onset of the war in Ukraine.

But he admitted it was “not satisfactory” that refugees were left without accommodation and that the Government was “urgently” seeking further accommodation.

The Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth said on Thursday night that the Citywest transit centre had reached capacity amid a severe constraint on suitable accommodation.

A group representing NGOs said that pregnant women and the elderly were sleeping on chairs and on the floor at the overcrowded Citywest facility.

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