U-turn | 

Decision to transfer Ukrainian refugees from Kerry hotel set to be reversed

It was reported that they were being moved from Hotel Killarney to accommodate almost 200 male asylum seekers

Alina Maslak had earlier spoken of her upset over the move. Pic from Radio Kerry

Neil FetherstonhaughSunday World

A decision to transfer Ukrainian refugees from their home in a Kerry hotel is to be reversed, it has emerged.

The Government is set to announce the sudden u-turn after discussions between Kerry TD and Education Minister Norma Foley and Minister for Children and Equality Roderic O’Gorman who has responsibility for the accommodation of refugees.

Residents living at Hotel Killarney received a letter from the Department of Children and Equality on Monday afternoon saying that they are to be moved to a new location.

It was reported that they were being moved from Hotel Killarney on Park Road to accommodate almost 200 male asylum seekers seeking international protection in Ireland.

This is despite the fact that their children have now settled in school in Killarney and that many of them have jobs.

Earlier, one of the more than 100 Ukrainian refugees who had been ordered to move to Mayo from their accommodation in Kerry pleaded with authorities to be allowed to stay.

Alina Maslak, who has lived in Killarney since March, revealed how she had recently started a course in personal training and nutrition in Kerry College in Tralee.

Alina, who was a professional dancer and choreographer in Ukraine, was looking forward to beginning a lifeguard course.

But she revealed how a letter from IPAS, the International Protection Accommodation Services, said she and other Ukrainians were being moved to Mayo and that a bus would collect them on Wednesday morning.

“And that letter was like, you must do it, and if you say no, we can’t give you any protection, if was something like that.

“And it’s so hard because I have a life here,” she told Radio Kerry.

“I found my course that I really like and I like my college, I like my group, and I like my teacher. It’s so hard when you must finish and (must) begin again.

“And I don’t understand, when we get to Westport, maybe it may happen (being moved) again.

“Every person in Ukraine, like me now, we had our lives, we had our plans, we had our homes. It’s very hard.”

The Ukrainian community of 135 people, including up to 40 school-going children, had reportedly received less than 48 hours’ notice they are to be bussed to Westport.

The children attend St Oliver’s National School nearby and several of the women have jobs in the town.

Some 16 nationalities are among the 192 males who are seeking international protection, including from Libya, Algeria, Iran and Georgia. They were bussed to Hotel Killarney on Saturday from City West.

It is understood 192 refugees from up to 16 countries including Libya and Georgia were brought to the Kerry hotel on Saturday from CityWest in Dublin while the Ukrainians were due to be sent to Westport today.

Moving asylum seekers into a hotel and moving out Ukrainian refugees who’ve been there since March “does not make any sense”, the mayor of Killarney, Niall Kelleher, said.

An emergency meeting which was held on Monday was attended by Fine Gael TD Brendan Griffin, the Killarney Immigrant Support Centre, and school principal along with Ukrainian representatives.

Speaking at the meeting, Mayor Kelleher said: “We want that decision reversed. How does it make sense we would remove people here since March in order to install others?”

Meanwhile, Fine Gael TD Brendan Griffin called the move “inhumane”.

Children’s Minister Roderic O’Gorman said the decision was made because of “very significant pressure” on the State.

He told RTE Radio: “We find it particularly hard to find accommodation for those in the international protection process, and the hotel that is in question here in Killarney is one that we can use for international protection.

“I understand that these families have become integrated in the communities, and what we are looking to do in terms of pleaded accommodation and pledged properties in the area, we will look to see if we can link some of these families in pledged properties.”

The Department of Children and Equality said in a statement to independent.ie that “the accommodation in Killarney is required in order to prevent International Applicants from entering homelessness”.

However, the Government is now set to announce a reversal in the decision.

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