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safety Government to start pairing Ukrainian refugees with Irish families within weeks

Over 20,000 offers have come in from Irish people across the country

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Children and Equality Minister Roderic O’Gorman. Photo: Gareth Chaney

Children and Equality Minister Roderic O’Gorman. Photo: Gareth Chaney

Children and Equality Minister Roderic O’Gorman. Photo: Gareth Chaney

The Government is expected to begin the process of moving Ukrainian refugees in with Irish host families next month, but vacant properties will be used in the first instance.

It comes as this weekend the Government began moving Ukrainian refugees into properties which were pledged by members of the public through the Red Cross website.

The Minister in charge of the accommodation effort, Roderic O’Gorman, said 9,000 Ukrainian people had arrived in Ireland as of Friday and the Government is providing accommodation to roughly half of them “primarily in hotels”.

He said it is not yet known how many people are expected to arrive here, but preparations are being made for “tens of thousands” to relocate to Ireland in the coming weeks.

“We’re continuing to look to book hotel accommodation to deal with short-term accommodation needs,” he told RTÉ’s This Week programme.

“As of this weekend, we’ve begun to draw down down the pledges for accommodation from the Irish people. Over 20,000 offers have come in from Irish people across the country.”

Mr O’Gorman described the reaction of the Irish public as a “huge show of generosity” and confirmed that the Government is looking to fill the vacant properties which have been pledged first.

He also confirmed that it is “looking at long-term block booking” of hotels and said it is “necessary” to ensure there are rooms available for the Ukrainian people arriving in Ireland.

He admitted that bookings were “tight” over the busy St Patrick’s weekend but added that they expect the pressure to ease in the weeks ahead.

“We were clear that this was a short-term solution for people arriving in the country, and there will be a range of medium and longer-term solutions brought forward by the Government over the next number of weeks.”

He said the “most immediate” of these longer-term solutions is the use of pledged accommodation.

However, Mr O’Gorman said if there is a “surge” in the numbers of refugees arriving here at once, then the Government may need to use larger centres.

He said facilities like the National Show Centre in Dublin could be used for “very short-term stays”.

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“Where we could move people out of Dublin Airport, where we could give them food, provide them somewhere to rest in the short-term while we’re looking for hotel accommodation for them.”

He said the government has been looking for hotel rooms all over the country and a Defence Force team is assisting the government and the Red Cross in housing people and making sure the accommodation is suitable.

Of the over the 20,000 pledges so far, Minister O’Gorman said 2,000 are vacant properties.

“A small number were drawdown this weekend and coming into next week we hope to significantly ramp up the drawdown for those vacant units and following on from that we hope to drawdown the offers of shared accommodation in people’s homes.”

Minister O’Gorman added that he expects the drawdown of shared accommodation offers to begin in the next “two to three weeks”.

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