Sligo students may be left with nowhere to live after housing repurposed for refugees

Between 400 and 500 students could be left without a place to live.
Aoife Kearns
Aoife Kearns

15.01 23 Jun 2023

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Sligo students may be left wit...

Sligo students may be left with nowhere to live after housing repurposed for refugees

Aoife Kearns
Aoife Kearns

15.01 23 Jun 2023

Share this article

Hundreds of students in Sligo could be left with no choice but to commute, defer or drop out due to plans to repurpose student accommodation for refugees.

Students say the owners of Benbulben Court and Milligan Court informed them "out of the blue" earlier this month that they would no longer be offering student accommodation.

The email stated the company would not be offering accommodation for the upcoming academic year and wished students 'the best in their future studies’.


The company instead plans to house refugees next semester.

The decision could leave between 400 and 500 students without a place to live.

ATU Sligo Students Union says it is now receiving 'hundreds of queries every day' from both new and current students.

It also claims many students who live there this year have yet to get their deposits back.

"Grim situation"

Students Union President Dáire Martin told Newstalk students have been left in a grim situation.

“We expect it to be anywhere between 400 to 500 students, possibly even more, from our understanding, we think some of those apartments are oversubscribed,” he said.

“So that is, straight away, a cohort of 400 to 500 students who, if they aren’t able to find accommodation next year, will have to commute unsustainable distances or will have to defer or drop-out.

“That is the very harsh reality of it.”

"Every reassurance"

Mr Martin said the students had previously been given “every reassurance” that they would be moving back in next year.

“Myself included, I actually lived there for four years, I was hoping to come back next year,” he said.

“We then on June 9th received a very abrupt announcement that we wouldn’t be coming back and it has displaced a huge amount of the students.”

Housing crisis

He said the area was already facing a student accommodation shortage.

“Naturally, they are very frustrated, they are anxious and their emotions are really shining through here - deposits still haven’t been returned to a lot of students, so we are seeking legal advice on that.

“There are a lot of other things we are doing. We have written to all accommodation providers in the local area to seek confirmation they will be honouring their student bookings for next year.

“We’re really doing everything we can to help these students who have lost their homes get a bed for next year.”

Refugee strategy

Meanwhile, Sligo TD Marc MacSharry told Newstalk the situation shines a light on the 'flawed process' when it comes to housing refugees and asylum seekers.

He said two Government departments are fighting each other over the plan, with the Higher Education Minister Simon Harris calling it unacceptable and the Department of Integration awarding the tender to the apartments.

A spokesperson for the Department said contracts have yet to be signed and discussions are ongoing.

Main image shows Benbulben Court in County Sligo.

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