Clonliffe College Seminary in Drumcondra will begin to house in excess of 600 refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine as early as next month, Dublin Live has learned.
The building, which is also known as Holy Cross College, has not operated as a school for priests since 2000 and is undergoing extensive works, understood to be as much as €2 million. Dublin's Catholic Archdiocese offered the seminary to those fleeing Russia's war in Ukraine in April.
A source has told Dublin Live "the best part of" €2 million has been spent on the building which has been empty for the past few years. Developers Hines have a planning application on the site for 1,614 new homes for rent.
Read more: More than 62,000 Ukrainians have fled to Ireland since beginning of the war
However, the application was delayed and the College has since been offered up for refugees in the meantime. "Clonliffe College has been empty the past couple of years on the basis that it is going to be redeveloped," the source said.
"The developer Hines has looked for planning permission but it is going to be held up for two or three years possibly. The best part of €2 million was spent on that to get it right - mainly to do with utilities, showers and fire safety."
They added: "The hope is at least part of that could be on stream before the end of the year and the remainder of it early in the new year."
It is estimated that 620 people could be housed in the seminary. The Department of Integration confirmed the seminary will be exclusively used to house those fleeing the war in Ukraine.
A spokesman said: "Clonliffe House is under consideration for the accommodation of Beneficiaries of Temporary Protection applicants [the scheme used to house those fleeing the war in Ukraine] only."
Minister Roderic O'Gorman's Department is also in the latter stages of negotiations to bring a former ESB office block on the East Wall Road on stream to house refugees, a source involved in sourcing accommodation for refugees told Dublin Live. A spokesman for the Department of Integration said: "Discussion with the owners of this building are ongoing."
It will be the first time the Department has used offices to house refugees which could set a precedent for this type of building being used. The building has the space to house 300 to 400 people and the source added it could come online in the next six months.
"There are one of two [office blocks] in the latter stages of negotiations," a source familiar with the housing of refugees told Dublin Live. "There is one on the East Wall Road. It was previously used by the ESB.
"It is a pretty modern building so it would be pretty easy to convert that. It could set a precedent that office blocks are a possibility."
The source added: "That one may be active in six months".
The two new sites will offer relief to a strained accommodation system which is housing 45,899 Ukrainian people and 16,908 International Protection applicants. However, the source compared housing hundreds in a single large building to the Direct provision system which the Government has pledged to end.
"It is better than turning them away though", the source said. The Department said the arrival of thousands of Ukrainian refugees delayed the project to end Direct Provision, called the White Papers, which resulted in staff being diverted.
A spokesman said: "In this vastly changed context an overall review of the projected timelines and deliverables in the White Paper is currently underway. This is a complex exercise that will take account of both the delays that have arisen as a consequence of the war in Ukraine and the impact of the substantial increase in numbers seeking International Protection."
The lack of accommodation for Ukrainian refugees coming to Ireland is “unacceptable”, Ukrainian Ambassador to Ireland Larysa Gerasko previously said.
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