A landowner in County Laois has said there is a “lot of total nonsense and misinformation” being spread about the Ukrainians refugees due to arrive in the local area.
Amid a severe shortage of housing, the Department of Integration has recently signed a contract to provide 700 new arrivals to Ireland with tented accommodation for a six-week-period.
The location in Stradbally is close to where Electric Picnic is held every year and landowner Thomas Cosby told The Hard Shoulder the festival was an important factor in the decision-making process.
“We were contacted quite recently by the Department to take in a number of family units and children,” he said.
“Really, on the grounds that the infrastructure, the technical know-how and the personnel are here.
“So, one of the smaller campsites, we’ve dedicated that for the next six weeks.”
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Mr Cosby said the tents would be described as “medium-luxury” if they had been rented out to festival-goers.
“They’ll be on beds, there’s obviously heaters and electricity points,” he said.
“There’ll be tracks laid down to make sure the ground conditions stay good and there’s obviously a dining hall going up… and communal areas as well.
“Plus, organising all the health implications and schooling and everything else - that’s all taken care of.
“There’s actually very little impact on the local community at all.”
The Department is insistent the tents are only a short-term solution and Mr Cosby said there had been “no talks” about extending the contract beyond six weeks.
“It is purely a stopgap between the end of the student accommodation and the Department engaging with hotels again after the tourist season,” he said.
A public meeting about the new arrivals is due to be held this evening but Mr Cosby is frank that local reaction has been “mixed”.
“There’s an awful lot of total nonsense going around… which is utter, total misinformation,” he said.
“A lot of people have got totally the wrong end of the stick about the people who are coming - but I’m hoping now to allay all those fears.”
After the invasion of Ukraine in 2022, the EU agreed Ukrainian citizens could seek refugee in the bloc under a Temporary Protection Directive.