Ukrainian refugees set for emergency accommodation in Irish sports stadiums

Dublin's open-door strategy for refugees from the country has led to the arrival of 40,000 people

Last week about 100 Ukrainian refugees were temporarily housed at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Getty Images
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Ukrainian refugees in Ireland appear likely to be put up in sports stadiums across the country after it ran out of suitable alternative accommodation.

The Irish government has approached the country’s main sporting bodies to seek further help in finding somewhere for the recent influx of refugees to Ireland to stay.

Ireland has been praised for opening its doors to refugees, with one Ukrainian MP addressing the Irish parliament in June to say they had been “overwhelmed” by the support of the Irish people.

Last month, Taoiseach Micheal Martin said Ireland was separately experiencing an influx of asylum seekers caused by the UK’s new policy of deporting some migrants to Rwanda. He said refugee accommodation was filling up with new arrivals who were coming to the country from the UK.

Travel between Ireland and the UK is open and barrier-free through the Common Travel Area, meaning Northern Ireland has the only UK land border with the EU.

Last week about 100 Ukrainian refugees were temporarily housed at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, as the state struggles to find enough emergency beds for those fleeing the war.

It is understood the refugees were put up on camp beds at the stadium for one week.

The department with oversight for sport has now confirmed that all the main organisations in Ireland have been contacted about similar short-term accommodation options.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media said it had made contact with the Football Association of Ireland, the Gaelic Athletic Association, the Irish Rugby Football Union and Sport Ireland to “seek their assistance, on behalf of the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth in providing emergency short-term accommodation for people seeking humanitarian shelter in Ireland”.

She added: “The organisations responded positively to the request and any accommodation offers arising were the subject of direct engagement by DCEDIY with the sports organisations.”

There are currently no plans for the arrangement at the Aviva to be extended, but it is believed similar arena-style sporting facilities will be considered for emergency shelter use in the coming months.

A coach of Ukrainian refugees arrives at Gormanston military camp. PA

It emerged earlier this month that Ireland had run out of state accommodation for arriving Ukrainian refugees — resulting in Ukrainians being temporarily housed in tents at the Gormanston military camp in County Meath.

Sixty refugees were housed at the army camp last week.

The old Dublin Airport terminal was also being used for emergency accommodation, but that ceased last Thursday.

To date, Ireland has taken in more than 40,000 refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine — the majority of them women and children.

At present about 32,000 are being accommodated, most in serviced accommodation such as hotels, B&Bs and guesthouses.

Every day about 130 more Ukrainian refugees arrive in the country.

During the summer, the government has used 5,000 student beds to accommodate some of the refugees. But over the coming weeks the number of these beds will reduce as students return to use them for the academic year.

Religious buildings, modular homes and vacant properties are some of the other accommodation options being considered.

Repurposing some vacant buildings for long-term use as homes for refugees is under way but it is understood it is proving to be a slow process.

Another issue which is proving to be problematic is finding people to run facilities and provide all the support needed — such as catering, maintenance, security and well-being provision for long-term residents.

Updated: August 01, 2022, 8:34 AM