The association’s president said he was saddened by the ‘harrowing’ plight of the families
In a letter to constituent organisations, GAA president Labhrás MacCarthaigh said the spaces had been made available for humanitarian reasons. He described the circumstances of many of those in need of accommodation as “harrowing” .
Mr MacCarthaigh said: “The accommodation is by no means salubrious – [it’s] sleeping bags and camp beds in our [corporate] boxes.”
He added: “It saddened me that on the Orthodox Christmas Day, the plight of these families is so harrowing.
“Nevertheless, I am heartened that, as an association, we were able to respond quickly and sympathetically to this humanitarian crisis.”
It is understood that up to 150 refugees will use GAA headquarters on Jones Road, Dublin, for the next two or three weeks while alternative accommodation is readied.
Equality Minister Roderic O’Gorman, who is in charge of housing Ukrainian refugees, said his department was “grateful for the support from the GAA”. Mr MacCarthaigh’s letter, headed “Ukrainian families – Croke Park temporary accommodation” – informs staff of what is happening.
In it, he wrote: “As many of you will be returning to the office on Monday, I wanted to brief you on our response to a desperate call for help from the Government this week.”
He tells personnel across the organisation: “We responded positively to a request from the Department of Children, Equality, Disability. Integration and Youth to provide emergency accommodation for Ukrainian families.
“We will welcome about 150 people consisting of women and children to Croke Park. The families will be with us for a short time from today, January 6, to January 19.”
The areas of the stadium set aside include suites 601 to 630 – corporate boxes usually thronged on big match days.
These will now be used for temporary sleeping arrangements, rather than the high-end, pampered enjoyment for GAA fixtures.
Meanwhile, the Ash suite of Croke Park will be used as a quiet children’s play area and the large Cusack suite as a lounge and kitchen space.
Temporary shower facilities are to be provided in the Cusack forecourt.
It is understood that stadium operations staff have liaised with Allpro, a group appointed by the Government to manage temporary accommodation.
A spokesman for Minister O’Gorman confirmed the move, saying the temporary accommodation from the GAA had been gratefully received.