News

Empty properties belonging to State likely used to house refugees

NewsBy Shuki Byrne
A refugee carrying his child climbs a slope after arriving on the shores of Lesbos
A refugee carrying his child climbs a slope after arriving on the shores of Lesbos

The government is examining vacant State facilities which may be utilised to house incoming refugees.

Empty properties including army barracks, former police stations and care homes are being considered by the State in response to the current refugee and and migrant crisis. 

The Department of Public Expenditure will outline short, medium and long-term accommodation options for refugees and how to fund them later this week.

Officials are examining vacant State facilities to ascertain which ones can and cannot be used to house thousands of incoming refugees. 

Speaking yesterday, Minister of State at the Office of Public Works Simon Harris said: "The Office of Public Works has identified vacant properties and will be in a position to advise Government on what can be used.

"I have asked my officials to analyse and audit vacant State property so that we can enable government to make an informed decision.

"The OPW chairs the inter departmental State Property Register which list State properties and it’s current use and availability. This should also assist in identifying potential vacant property or sites.
 
"The OPW stands ready to advise and help make an informed decision."
 
Tanaiste Joan Burton is said to be working with Mr Harris and Brendan Howlin to identify and evaluate vacant facilities. 
 
Speaking on Newstalk yesterday, Tánaiste Joan Burton said that vacant army barracks can be used:
 
"Generally speaking - and this would some something the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform are looking at - are there empty properties?
 
 
"Ireland has to and will step up to the plate," she added. "As a country, that is what we have always done.
 
"The Government has had a number of detailed discussions, particularly the decision to send the Navy and the decision to accept whatever number we are asked to accept."
 
Ms Burton added that the number of refugees Ireland is likely to take "could be 5,000". 
 
Facilities being considered are Magee Barracks in Kildare, St Bricin’s Hospital, Arbour Hill, Dublin, Kickham Barracks in Clonmel and Columb Barracks in Mullingar.