900 holiday homes made available for people fleeing Ukraine as half of accommodation offers fall through

Around 900 empty holiday homes have been processed and handed over to councils to accommodate Ukrainian refugees.

o far, 100 refugees have been housed in these vacant homes after half of the 20,000-plus accommodation offers made to the Irish Red Cross (IRC) fell through.

Almost one in six (16pc) of the 25,200 accommodation pledges made in Ireland so far have been withdrawn, while 40pc of the homeowners contacted by the IRC have not been available.

However, so far 900 vacant holiday homes have been processed by the IRC and the Defence Forces before being handed over to city and county councils to house refugees.

Around 1,200 calls are being made by the Defence Forces and the IRC each day.

A senior Government source said various checks need to take place before the properties can be handed over to councils, which could take several days or up to two weeks.

The councils then distribute homes deemed suitable to Ukrainian families after completing further checks.

It is understood Defence Forces staff are working with the IRC and extra secondments are due to be put in place from non-governmental organisation Pobal to speed up the process.

The State has now provided 15,000 beds for Ukrainian refugees who have arrived into the country across hotels, as well as camp beds in community sports halls and centres.

A tent site with camp beds is due to open up in Mill Street in Cork on Monday.

Sources expect people will be accommodated there from next week as hotel accommodation fills up and contracts expire.

Around 23,000 Ukrainian refugees have arrived in Ireland so far, with 40,000 more expected to arrive by the end of this month.

More hotel rooms will come on stream next week. Additionally, the Government is keen to intensify efforts to put in place accommodation which has been pledged by the public through the IRC portal.

The IRC will this weekend be sending out an email to everyone who has pledged accommodation.

This is being done as another means of reaching the 40pc who have not withdrawn their offer but have not yet been reached.

The door is always open for these people to come forward as “there is just so much property needed”, Liam O’Dwyer, secretary-general of the IRC said.

He added that while Irish people have a “huge amount of goodwill and generosity”, it is common for people to make pledges but then decide against it.

“If I was asked beforehand, I’d have predicted this would happen – it’s very common,” he told the Irish Independent.

“People are so generous and want to help, but then their circumstances change or they think it through and realise it’s not the best option.”

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar this week admitted housing the refugees will be “very hard to manage” and will be the biggest refugee crisis Ireland has ever seen.

The IRC is focusing on getting Ukrainian families into vacant properties, of which there are over 5,600 pledged, before they move on to assessing the 19,000 shared accommodation offers.

Mr O’Dwyer said the desperate nature of the situation has resulted in actions being taken on a “needs must” basis.

This will lead to displaced Ukrainians being housed in emergency accommodation, such as hotels, community centres and other makeshift facilities.

“It’s the speed of this, really, and the sheer numbers,” he added.

“The Government has readied a lot of emergency accommodation such as tented villages as a precaution, as they don’t want to be caught on the hop if there isn’t accommodation available in other facilities, hotels or pledged accommodation.”