The Irish Red Cross has expressed concern that hotel beds currently being occupied by Ukrainian refugees could be withdrawn in advance of the tourist season.
Liam O’Dwer, the Irish Red Cross International and Migration advisor told RTÉ radio’s Today show that the Government had signalled that up to 10,000 to 12,000 beds could be withdrawn.
However, he pointed out that the numbers of people who had pledged accommodation were continuing to do so even though in some cases the original six month agreement had expired.
“I'd have to say the generosity of people is quite extraordinary. People are tending to review and renew and say, look, we will stick with this. We’ll stick with this for another while. And that's that a great benefit”
Mr O’Dwyer added that modular housing would be coming on stream shortly. The OPW was also working on the renovation of older buildings while the local authority vacant housing scheme was going quite well, he said.
In the meantime, the drive for pledged accommodation could raise the figure from the current level of 11,500 to 12,000 up to 15,000 to 16,000, he said.
“We think that there is still a possibility to generate about 3,000 or 4000, but I think the modular housing will help hugely and the renovation of the older buildings. But we've constantly said to the Government, look, you need to plan for a time when there's going to be a lacuna, when there's going to be this great gap.
“That's where you need the larger buildings, larger buildings that should be available at the moment to the international protection people who are, I think really unfortunately out on the street, that's not acceptable.”
Mr O’Dwyer said this was why the Red Cross had welcomed the appeal by Minister Roderic O’Gorman for larger buildings. “We think that within the commercial sector there are sufficient larger buildings out there and it's those that should be tackled.
“And indeed, this morning we received an offer from somebody within the commercial sector to open the building to allow people in that type of offer. That type of offer is what we're looking for.
“It presents the Government with an opportunity that if they hit a crisis like they have hit at the moment with the international protection, that there is an overflow capacity there and that's the planning that's needed.”