The Government “should try harder” to accommodate refugees and asylum seekers, a housing expert has said.
Last year, the State welcomed 70,000 Ukrainians and Minister for Integration Roderic O’Gorman has briefed the Cabinet that it is set to become even harder to find them suitable housing.
Many of the hotels that have been accommodating them are expected to return to catering for tourists and there are precious few alternatives.
In the past, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has bluntly warned, “We’ll not be able to accommodate everyone who arrives in the country and that’s not a place we want to be in.”
It is a problem that Dr Lorcan Sirr, a Senior Lecturer in housing, planning and development at TUD, has a certain amount of sympathy with.
“We can’t house our own people as well as the poor refugees who are coming in and asylum seekers,” he told Newstalk Breakfast.
“I suppose, what he’s saying is [just a reflection of facts] but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try.
“And we should try harder, to be honest. We still don’t have an overarching Director of the Refugee Response that would be from the Department of the Taoiseach that would overlook all the Departments.”
Dr Sirr predicted that, “It will have to get worse before it gets better unfortunately” but believes there are solutions available as well.
“We have 66,000 holiday homes around the country, the vast majority of which lie unoccupied for 90% of the year,” he said.
“Even if you only got 10 or 20% of those, it would be a great start.
“I know the Department of Children have put out a call looking for them but I suppose more needs to be done to do that.
“We have lots of empty built to rent accommodation around - particularly the large urban areas that I think could be used.”
Some refugees have been housed in tents in recent months but Dr Sirr described that as not ethical.
“The use of tents as accommodation is in breach of our own European obligations,” he said.
“In general, the use of tents is a really poor indicator of where we’re at and the level that we’re at.
“We shouldn’t be anywhere near having to use tents.”
Main image: Ukrainian refugees in the Aviva. Photo: Donal McNamee/Business Post