€99m fee for refugee accommodation an 'estimate' claims Government; Cork business says only a fraction of published contract paid

Tender figures, published by the Department of Integration, showed over 90 contracts had been signed with hotels and guesthouses
€99m fee for refugee accommodation an 'estimate' claims Government; Cork business says only a fraction of published contract paid

The companies listed in the Department of Integration’s publication were indicated to have received contracts worth €99.3m, but a spokesperson for the department has told The Echo the figures are estimates. 

A GOVERNMENT department has described as ‘estimates’ tender contract figures it published indicating that €99.3m would be paid to businesses providing private accommodation and services to Ukrainian refugees.

Those tender figures, published by the Department of Integration, showed over 90 contracts had been signed with hotels and guesthouses to provide accommodation and ancillary services such as catering and laundry for Ukrainians fleeing the Russian invasion.

The companies listed in the Department of Integration’s publication were indicated to have received contracts worth €99.3m, but a spokesperson for the department has told The Echo the figures are estimates. 

Six Cork businesses are among the companies granted contracts, seemingly worth amounts ranging from hundreds of thousands of euro to several million euro. 

The six Cork businesses are: the Quality Hotel, Youghal, which was indicated to have received a contract worth €12.5m; Trabolgan Holiday Centre (€4,471,879); Weddings by Franc Ltd (€622,440); CRM Properties/ The Dutch Tulip (€451,095); Knockrow Trading Ltd/Munster Arms Hotel (€294,840); and The Drimoleague Inn (€254,800).

Several of those businesses told The Echo the figures quoted were not reflective of what they were receiving, and a spokesperson for the Department of Integration said the amounts it had published were “estimates of total values” and were not necessarily the amounts to be paid.

The spokesperson said: “The values associated with the contracts in the EU notice are estimates of total values and should not be taken as the amounts that have or will be paid out.” 

They said their contracts usually have no-fault break clauses available to both parties, meaning should circumstances change significantly, the contract can be terminated (with adequate notice, etc) so that the full value of the contract may not be realised.

FRACTION

The owner of one of the businesses, speaking to The Echo on condition of anonymity, said they were being paid “a fraction” of the figure cited in the tender.

One business which was willing to speak to The Echo was Trabolgan Holiday Centre, which has 150 Ukrainian residents and which was said in the published tenders to have received a contract worth €4,471,879. A spokesperson for Trabolgan said: “That figure is inaccurate and doesn’t reflect at all the agreement that is in place. Our core business is holidaymaking, and it will continue to be, but right now we are trying to do our bit for people who are in trouble and are fleeing for their lives.”

Last month, Public Expenditure and Reform Minister Michael McGrath said taking in Ukrainian refugees could cost the State in excess of €1bn this year.

Mr McGrath said there was no way of predicting exactly how many Ukrainian refugees might come to Ireland, and he cautioned that there was no indication the war would end any time soon.

“It is possible that the costs associated with looking after people coming from Ukraine could exceed €1bn in the current year, when you take into account all of the different forms of support that we are providing as a country, so I don’t think anybody can accuse us of not stepping up to the mark,” Mr McGrath said.

Last week the Aviva Stadium was used to temporarily house around 100 refugees before they were transferred to other accommodation.

With the new academic year approaching, thousands of refugees face the prospect of having to leave their accommodation in the coming weeks.

Of the 43,000 Ukrainian refugees who arrived in Ireland since the end of February, over three-quarters have sought accommodation from the State.

Of the 32,000 who have sought State accommodation, around 28,000 have been placed in serviced accommodation and a further 1,100 are in emergency accommodation.

The Government is understood to expect that up to 50,000 people will have arrived from Ukraine by the end of August.

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