A Fianna Fáil TD has said the Government needs to stop “funnelling refugees through Irish beauty spots” and house Ukrainians where there are jobs and public transport they can access.
Cathal Crowe, who represents Clare, said he was delighted at the generosity of his constituents and “we would take them all in if we could” but thought that better planning needs to go into housing them.
“There isn’t public transport going every [up] highway and byway [in Clare]. There simply isn’t and let’s not pretend there isn’t,” Deputy Crowe told Newstalk Breakfast.
“But what I’ve seen in places like Lisdoonvarna is kind of alarming. There was a population there of around 300, it’s now gone up… [and] there is very little capacity in that community.
“They’re able to care, they’re doing a good job but there comes a point where you exceed what a community has actually a capacity to provide for.
“And now day and night there’s people walking the roads with high vis jackets. They have no public transport.
“They’re contacting my office saying, ‘We’re hugely grateful for being accommodated here - is there any possibility of employment or for education or for transport?’”
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After he raised this issue in the Oireachtas, Deputy Crowe said he was contacted by people across Ireland having the same problem and predicts that the situation might be tolerable now the weather is fine, but come winter it will be a different story:
“It will be exposed in time that their needs aren’t truly being met,” he continued.
“There’s a refugee centre closer to my own home - the Radisson Hotel - in Cratloe. They’ve a bus service outside the door. There’s centres of employment nearby.
“I would say that’s probably the best example [of how to do this].”
Nearly 6,000 Ukrainian children have enrolled in Irish schools so far - 3,968 are in primary school, while a further 1,875 are studying at secondary schools.
441 of them are in living in Clare and while Deputy Crowe thinks education is one sector that has risen to the challenge, he also thinks that officials need talk more often to TDs who have local knowledge:
“Some of the officials from IPAS, the official agency who are coordinating this, they don’t talk to TDs, they don’t come down and meet [people at] these centres, so they’ve very little knowledge of what’s going on on the ground.
“There needs to be far more oversight.
“We’re doing an awful lot of the right things. I think it’s wonderful that we’ve been able to receive so many and look after them but there are lessons to be learnt.”
Main image: Medyka, Poland. 24th Feb, 2022. Ukrainian families crosses through the border as first migrants from Ukraine flee the Russian invasion and enter border town of Medyka, Poland on February 24, 2022. Picture by: Dominika Zarzycka/Sipa USA/ Sipa USA/Alamy Live News