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More than half of housing pledges for Ukrainian refugees don’t materialise

The government is now scrambling to source accommodation for Ukrainian refugees as more than half of the 24,000 pledges of accommodation made to the Red Cross by people living in Ireland have now failed to materialise. 

The Red Cross said that it had received pledges of 5,714 vacant homes and 18,322 shared homes for use for those fleeing the war when it appealed for support – a total of 24,036.

However, the organisation has now told the Irish Times that 12,649 of those are no longer available because the offer has been withdrawn by the property owner or they cannot be contacted.  Some 3,465 offers were withdrawn, and another 9,184 of those who signed up are now not contactable, despite “multiple attempts” by the Red Cross to get in touch.

With hotels now full, and offers of home shares falling through, the Government is scrambling to find accommodation for people fleeing the conflict.  At least 24.000 Ukrainian refugees have already arrived in Ireland.

The Cabinet has heard that there is a “high risk” of shortages of emergency and short-term accommodation in the immediate term.

Last month, as the government rapidly increased the number of refugees it promised to take from 20,000 to 100,000 and then to 200,000, it was evident that it was a promise to desperate people that Ireland could not keep.

As Niamh Uí Bhriain wrote on March 7th:

“The unavoidable truth is that we can’t possibly house 100,000 refugees in Ireland. At this point we can’t even house our own people. Why is everyone suddenly afraid to say that?

We live at a time when the world is wholly consumed with virtue-signalling: with posting messages which elevate the commentator by the public sharing of good intentions and admirable compassion – which almost always corresponds to whatever opinion is trending on social media.

That may sound harsh but it’s important that when senior politicians make statements which will inevitably be heard by desperate people fleeing war that they don’t make an offer which the country cannot possibly provide.

The reality is that Ireland is deep in a housing crisis which is getting worse by the day. A whole generation feels it is being locked out of the market. We’ve seem to be failing to tackle the crisis of having around 10,000 homeless people for years now, and some of those people are not just living, but dying, in tents or in the freezing cold.

Up to 120,000 people are on social housing waiting lists or in receipt of housing assistance payments  – with at least a 9 years wait on average for a home.

It’s easy to virtue signal about taking refugees, but isn’t it entirely unrealistic to expect the same government who have left their own citizens in dire straits for basic necessities to suddenly become ultra-efficient in providing for another 100,000 people in need. Should we take in Ukrainian refugees? Yes. Should we be realistic about how many we can care for? Also yes, because to do otherwise is being dishonest to everyone,” she said.

As Gript also reported last month,  the last ‘rooms for refugees’ drive – for Syrian refugees – also faced a reality quite different from what was expected from the initial sign up.

RTÉ Reporter Laura Fletcher discovered that only 44 of 667 – just 7%-  of rooms pledged to the Red Cross for Syrian refugees were actually eventually willing to take those fleeing the conflict.





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