Fine Gael Senator Garret Ahearn has said that while he “hugely admires” the Ukrainian ambassador, her comments over the weekend regarding the Irish housing situation were “unhelpful.”
Ahearn’s comments came in the Seanad this week, after Ukrainian ambassador to Ireland Larya Gerasko said that it was “unacceptable” that the government had not warned Ukrainian refugees that Ireland had no accommodation for them.
There are currently dozens of Ukrainian refugees who have no accommodation, and who are currently staying in sleeping bags on the floor of Dublin airport.
In addition, Equality Minister Roderic O’Gorman has said that he can’t rule out refugees sleeping rough in the streets eventually.
Following these developments, the Ukrainian ambassador expressed her frustrations to RTÉ News.
“They bought tickets, they arrived in Ireland. So it would be better to announce the lack of accommodation in advance and Ukrainians would decide to go to another country,” she said.
In this context, however, Senator Garrett Ahearn said he was “deeply disappointed” by the ambassador’s remarks.
“The Ukrainian ambassador to Ireland has my full support and I admire her hugely,” he said.
“But I was deeply disappointed by her comments at the weekend when she said that the people of Ukraine were not warned about the housing situation in Ireland. That is just not the case.
“The ambassador has been told that the housing situation is a real challenge in Ireland for Ukrainians coming. The four Ukrainians Members of Parliament who spoke in this Chamber, which has played a key role in building relationships between both parliaments, knew that the two serious challenges that we in this country have regarding Ukrainians were housing and childcare.”
Ahearn added that Ukrainian MPs had gone to the UK to try and put pressure on the British government to “open up the UK’s borders” and “relieve some of the pressures that Ireland was under.”
“The ambassador has my support always, but in this aspect her comments were not factually true and were unhelpful in many ways,” he said.