Residents at Glendalough Estate in County Wicklow have insisted there is ‘absolutely no way’ the area can cater to hundreds of Ukrainian refugees.
Since the war broke out in spring 2022, the Government has helped source accommodation for Ukrainians arriving in Ireland and it recently announced it would lease the Glendalough Estate for 32 weeks.
Not all residents are happy with the news; Kaz Baliński and his family live in the sprawling Glendalough House but the estate itself is owned by a trust, meaning he had no involvement in the decision to house the Ukrainians in the local area.
“There’s absolutely no way that something like that can be deployed in a small hamlet of Annamoe,” he told Newstalk Breakfast.
“There’s only about 200 residents… I think everybody is very worried frankly.”
Mr Baliński said he is concerned for the refugees and believes the area is too small to cope with such a large increase in the population.
“People just haven’t got the infrastructure here to handle that,” he said.
“There’s no shops, there is just nothing in Annamoe apart from a few houses and people are expected to stay around and do nothing and effectively have nowhere to go.”
The Department has been allocated €1.5bn for the Ukraine response in 2024 to continue to provide short term emergency accommodation for people fleeing Ukraine 🇺🇦 #Budget2024 pic.twitter.com/UPfAfsQTyB
— Children, Equality, Disability, Integration, Youth (@dcediy) October 10, 2023
In September, the Government hired a campsite in Stradbally, County Laois to house refugees in tented accommodation and Mr Baliński suggested conditions in some of the Irish camps are akin to those his family lived in in the 1940s.
“The conditions of the people [who were] in Stradbally are pretty much what my family ran from in the Second World War,” Mr Baliński.
“So, no, I disagree with that; I want nothing to do with this.”
When asked what the Government should do to house refugees who arrive in Ireland he replied, Mr Baliński said there are more suitable parts of the country.
“[There are] schools, convents and bits and pieces like that, they could house people with proper shelter,” he said.
“But up in the Wicklow mountains? No, especially not coming into winter, it’s not humane.”
Such is the shortage of accommodation, the Government is working on a plan that could mean refugees are provided with housing only for the first three months of their time in Ireland - something that Ireland is line with other EU countries, such as Poland and Czechia.
Afterwards, they would be required to find their own place or move into a home made available through the offer-a-home scheme.
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Main image: Split of Kaz Balinski and Glendalough House.