C: Department of the Taoiseach

150 Ukrainian refugees put in tents at Gormanston army camp as Ireland runs out of houses 

150 refugees have been moved to a tent camp in Gormanston in County Meath, with the Government admitting there is a shortage of refugee accommodation.

Video footage captured the first busloads of refugees arriving at the camp on Tuesday afternoon – where those fleeing Ukraine for Ireland will stay until the Government can source ‘long-term accommodation’.

The Government confirmed campsites are to open at military bases and asylum centres across Ireland because there is a shortage of houses for the roughly 40,000 Ukrainian refugees who have been welcomed to Ireland so far. Numbers have been swelled by a rise in the number of asylum seekers from other countries, which has been blamed on pressures caused by the conflict in Ukraine.

Some in the Government have blamed the crisis Ireland is now facing on Britain for taking a tougher stance on immigration and asylum seekers.

Speaking at the end of last week, Micheál Martin blamed the overloading of Ireland’s facilities on an unexpected surge in asylum-seekers arriving from the Middle East and Africa via Britain. He blasted Britain’s plans to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda as “a shocking sort of initiative” which had “motivated people utilising the Common Travel Area to come into the republic”.

For decades, the Common Travel Area has allowed for barrier-free movement between the U.K. and Ireland, but Britain’s deportation of new arrivals to the Central African country of Rwanda has spurred many to exploit it.

Ireland’s confirmed shortage of rooms for Ukrainians comes following months of warnings about Ireland’s incapability to house the amount of refugees it pledged to take. In June, Gript editor John McGuirk was among those to point out that those fleeing Ukraine for Ireland are victims of the Irish plan to house refugees, and signalled that we could end up with thousands of unhappy refugees let down by the broken promises made by our Government.

“Ukrainian refugees are not the problem, and are not to blame for any of this,” he wrote.

“They neither asked to be made refugees, nor to end up living in a soulless hotel room not wondering where they are going next. They are in many ways the victims, too, of the Irish plan: Each additional refugee that arrives exhausts goodwill towards them and increases the risk of a backlash.

“Each additional refugee increases the demand and competition for refugee accommodation. It reduces the supports we can give them individually. Eventually, we’ll end up with thousands of poor, and miserable refugees who we can’t look after”.

The unprecedented numbers of people arriving has exerted massive pressure as Ireland’s housing crisis continues unabated.

Meath Seanator Sharon Keogan described the scenes unfolding at Gormanston as “state organised chaos” and said the accommodation was not appropriate.

“It is a training facility with loud noises,” she told The Meath Chronicle.

“It is not suitable for children whose fathers were left behind in the war. We certainly don’t want this to be turned into a long term facility. We want people integrated into communities.”

While there was a big response to pleas for offers of holiday homes for ukrainians or host families, clearing and organising the lodgings has taken far longer than anticipated. 2,000 people are currently in accommodation offered by the Irish public, which could increase to 6,000 according to reports.

Reports indicate that an additional 200 refugees are likely going to be moved to the Meath army camp, meaning it will reach full capacity. Around 16 people sleep in one tent at the camp.

Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman said he anticipated that the tents would only be used for accommodation for one week at a time. Speaking on RTE Radio One’s Morning Ireland on Tuesday, he said that the Government will not use the camp as a “long-term” solution to Ireland’s refugee crisis. The measure was adopted because of a lack of space available in State-provided accommodation for refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine.

It comes after the Citywest hotel and conference centre in west Dublin reached its full capacity of 2,300 people, as it was revealed that some refugees were sleeping in the Old Terminal Building at Dublin Airport, a reported ‘stopgap measure’ put in place while the Government finds facilities for refugees to stay in.

In contrast to other European countries, Ireland is taking in more people per capita than many other larger countries with bigger economies. Recent data released by the United Nations Refugee Agency, UNHCR, indicates that 5.8 million refugees from Ukraine have been recorded across Europe.

Using the data from the UNHCR against the population of several countries, John McGuirk, writing for Gript on Monday, calculated the number of refugees per 10,000 people for each country.

“Thus far, Ireland has taken 83 Ukrainians per 10,000 people.That number for the United Kingdom is 14 – so they have taken in 14 refugees from the Ukraine per 10,000 of the population. France has also taken 14 Ukrainians per 10,000 people. Italy’s per capita intake is 24 per 10,000, while Spain’s is 27.

“So this small island has taken in almost six times per capita the number of Ukrainian refugees as Britain and France, both countries with significantly larger economies”.

“Ireland has also taken in far more per capita than Spain – and more than three times as many as Italy.

“We’re also streets ahead of Norway – 38 refugees per 10,000 people – and of Slovenia which has taken 34 per 10,000 of its population. And we are well ahead even of Belgium and Romania – both 44 refugees per 10,000 of their populations, and even ahead of Denmark who at least chalk up 54 per ten thousand”, he added.

It comes as it was revealed that there is currently no hot food available to refugees staying at the old terminal building in Dublin Airport, and no air conditioning at the refugee tents at Gormanston, as multiple temperature records were smashed across Ireland on Monday, with temperatures reaching 33C.

The Government has announced it will cost €2.5bn to accommodate and care for 100,000 Ukrainian refugees next year – who do not have to claim asylum in Ireland and are granted “temporary protection” for an initial period of a year because of the waiving of visa requirements for Ukrainians. On arrival, Ukrainian refugees are given welfare payments, the right to work, access to healthcare, education and accommodation – although shortages have become an issue.

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