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Cllr fears landlords illegally evicting tenants to make way for refugees

A Fianna Fáil councillor has told Gript that landlords may be illegally evicting families to make way for Ukrainian refugees.

The claim was initially made last month by Fianna Fáil councillor for Kerry, John Francis Flynn.

Asked if this practice was still going on, Flynn told Gript: “In my area it seems to be.”

“You see the amount of people getting notices to quit from their landlords, and then landlords asking the likes of myself what it’s worth to house the Ukrainians,” he said.

“So that’ll just tell you what’s in their heads.”

“A NATIONAL THING”

Asked if this was going on elsewhere outside of Kerry, Flynn said he presumed it was “a national thing.”

“Everyone knows that housing Ukrainians in B&Bs and hotels is a short-term solution,” he said.

“And everyone knows that there’s going to come a time where we’re looking for houses for them. And that’s going to be worth big money. Because you know that it’s €68 a night per head for the Ukrainians to stay in a hotel or a B&B. So I presume the landlords think that they’ll get paid the same.”

However, Flynn stated that, if this was the case, it would be highly illegal.

“It is illegal if this is what’s happening”

“It is illegal if this is what’s happening,” he said.

“I know for a fact two or three cases in my local area have been on to me, and it’s all families being evicted. It’s not single people, it’s people in three bedroom houses in my experience.

“They’re coming to me, and they’re being given three months notice to leave the house, which the landlord is entitled to do. But the landlord can’t get rid of a tenant to bring in a new tenant. That’s illegal.”

He said he wasn’t sure if landlords were aware of the legality of the situation.

“Two of the landlords have come back to me, having given the families notice to quit, and asked me ‘What’s the story with housing Ukrainians?’ So that’ll just tell you, that’s their plan,” he said.

“You can’t blame the landlords, either. They’re just trying to make money. It’s the system that’s wrong. The system that’s allowing them to do that is wrong. The notice to quit should be extended.”

“NOT THOUGHT THROUGH”

Flynn said that the system currently in place for dealing with Ukrainian refugees isn’t “sustainable,” adding that it is “putting the cart before the horse.”

“I don’t think they [the government] are thinking this through at all,” the councillor said.

He claimed that while everyone has sympathy for the Ukrainians and welcomes them, certain advantages that refugees are receiving could cause tension within local communities.

“I know people who are on a waiting list for a PPS number at the moment – if a person comes into this country and wants to work, or has a new child,” he said.

“SYMPATHY MAY RUN OUT”

“The waiting list for a PPS number is 6 weeks. But a Ukrainian can walk straight in the door and walk out with a PPS number. That’s wrong.

“I mean, we’re handing out medical cards is another thing. I’m fighting every day of the week for medical cards. I can’t get it for people. And this is what’s annoying the public, and this is what’s going to cause the sympathy to run out if we don’t try to have an even par across the board.”

Flynn said that the government hadn’t thought through letting “an unlimited amount of people into the country.”

“NOT SUSTAINABLE”

“I don’t think it’s sustainable,” he said.

“We had our problems with our hospitals before there was any war, and now we’re handing out medical cards, which will flood the hospitals and make it ten times worse.

“I mean, you have to have some plan. It’s not fair on the Ukrainians either to be bringing them into a country and the facilities aren’t there for them.”

“POLITICIANS ARE AFRAID TO OPEN THEIR MOUTH”

Asked if other councillors felt the same way, Flynn said he believed they did, but were fearful of speaking out.

“I’m sure most of them feel the same way, but a lot of them wouldn’t open their mouths,” he said.

“And it’s the same with any issue that goes on. A lot of politicians are afraid to open their mouth. But I think you’re better off to tell the truth, anyway.

“I’d often have councillors there that would tell me something, but then they’re in public they backtrack and it’s a different story.”

He said it was important the government addressed these issues to prevent an “us or them” situation between local communities and new arrivals from Ukraine.

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