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Irish Independent
Irish Independent
By Gráinne Ní Aodha, PA

Irish government appeals for more pledged accommodation for Ukrainians

Equality and Integration Minister Roderic O’Gorman (PA)

Ireland has issued another appeal to the public to offer accommodation for Ukrainians, with a minister saying the Government had learned from mistakes made after the first appeal.

Citizens had been asked earlier this year to pledge unused houses apartments or holiday homes to house arriving Ukrainian refugees, but this was stalled as people reported delays with the system.

There are currently 5,500 people housed in pledged accommodation in Ireland.

Integration minister Roderic O’Gorman said the offer would be for six months, and emphasised that those who pledge this accommodation would get the 800 euro per month recognition payment.

“We’ve learned from the the initial pledged appeal process, this one is going to be done directly through local authorities,” he said on RTE’s Morning Ireland.

“So rather than going through one centralised national portal, people will pledge to their own local authority.”

I think we need to increase the amount of State-owned accommodation that we can provide for people who are arriving in this countryRoderic O'Gorman

He said that those who pledge accommodation will be able to see how their offer is progressing.

Mr O’Gorman said that there was a need to build up State-owned accommodation that the Government can use to house asylum seekers.

“We’ll be looking to advance the building of reception and integration centres.

“I think we need to increase the amount of State-owned accommodation that we can provide for people who are arriving in this country – to move away from that reliance on the private sector, on hotels.”

He said that the issue of a migration State agency under the Department of Housing should be considered.

“I think that is something that we need to examine.

“The amount of migration that Ireland is going to see into the future is going to increase and we need to change our infrastructure from one that’s undertaking a short, kind of, immediate term response as it is right now to one that’s able to address this into the future.”

Asked about where refugees due to arrive in Ireland will be housed, Mr O’Gorman said that they would look to repurpose buildings around the country to address “the significant population pressure” the country is under.

Meanwhile, the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) has found that an increase in international protection applicants to Ireland in 2022 has been caused by a confluence of factors.

Ireland is among the few EU countries that saw asylum seeker applicants rise continuously throughout the first six months of 2022.

In the first half of this year, there have been 6,494 international protection applicants to Ireland – a “significant” increase from 2,235 applicants in the first half of 2019.

The ESRI research, funded by Mr O’Gorman’s department, found that a sharp jump in applications from February 2022 could be a form of “catch-up migration”.

It also found that although Ukrainian nationals were not included in this cohort examined, that the Russian invasion has caused “significant displacement” with knock-on effects in neighbouring countries.

The Samuel Beckett Bridge in Dublin’s city centre displays the colours of the Ukrainian flag as a show of support (Brian Lawless/PA)

The study also noted that conditions and conflict in countries of origin are “significant factors” in the recent increase.

“The research identifies that for many of the top nationalities applying for international protection in Ireland (including Somali, Afghan, Ukrainian, Egyptian and Georgian), conditions and conflict in countries of origin are important drivers.

“Applications from these nationalities are increasing not only in Ireland, but across Europe,” it said. 

It also said that policy changes in the UK were “unlikely” to have had a significant effect on recent application figures in Ireland.

This is in reference to the suggestion by Mr O’Gorman and Taoiseach Micheal Martin that the UK’s controversial policy to send migrants to Rwanda was leading to a spike in applications in Ireland.

The ESRI report notes: “However, there may be a small deflection effect for certain nationalities (eg, South African and Zimbabwean), whereby instead of going to the UK, applicants come to Ireland.

“The UK is also seeing a significant rise in applications, and, while Ireland may be affected by some of this increase, the UK’s increase is driven by different nationalities,” it said.

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