September 24, 2022

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Members of the Church of Ireland have been asked “to give urgent consideration” as to how they can provide accommodation for people fleeing the war in Ukraine.

Its Church and Society Commission has appealed to “anyone who owns or knows of buildings in good or habitable repair for immediate use which could accommodate groups of Ukrainian refugees” to contact the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth (DCEDIY) at ukrainetempaccom@equality.gov.ie.

This follows consultation by the commission with the Department which manages short–term accommodation needs, in light of the current shortage of accommodation for refugees, and the need to “sustain the momentum for the long run on behalf of people who have lost everything at home,” as the Church’s commission has put it.

The commission pointed out that buildings offered “should preferably have communal cooking facilities that can be used by residents so they are not dependent on provided food. People coming from Ukraine are currently being housed in a wide range of properties, including hotels, guesthouses and B&Bs, hostels, self–catering accommodation, former nursing homes, and repurposed buildings. Student accommodation is currently housing around 4,500 people but will need to be returned to its main purpose from August onwards”.

It advised parishes to contact their Community Response Forum, set up by each local authority, “to see how they can support people through the next steps in their journey and to help them integrate with the communities in which they find themselves”.

Chair of the commission and Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin Michael Jackson said “the Department has asked for our assistance in this urgent matter which comes at a time when our entire country is struggling to find solutions to a housing and accommodation crisis”.

He said “the reality now is that people from Ukraine have been sleeping on airport floors and are being accommodated in tents in today’s Ireland. I encourage anyone who knows of any suitable buildings to contact DCEDIY. While this appeal is specific to people coming from Ukraine, I encourage you not to forget others coming to Ireland as refugees and those who are homeless in our own society at this time”.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for Dublin’s Catholic Archdiocese said responsibility for preparation of its former seminary at Clonliffe College in Drumcondra to accommodate Ukrainian refugees rested with the building’s new owners, Hines Ireland.

A spokesman for Hines said it “fully supports all practical initiatives aimed at assisting the Government in easing the plight of Ukrainian refugees in respect of the former Clonliffe College site. However, as Hines will not take overall possession of the property in question until later this year, it is not able to comment further at this time”.

Last April the archdiocese offered Clonliffe for the accommodation of Ukrainian refugees. The college, it said, could hold up to 620 people. Preparatory work at the former seminary “could take some weeks”, a spokesman for the archdiocese said at the time.

An auction of contents at Clonliffe last May held to help defray costs in preparing the college for Ukrainian refugees, raised €147,000. The archdiocese spokesman said afterwards that this money would “be used by the archdiocese to assist Catholic organisations in Ukraine in their efforts to help those affected by the war”.

Amri (the Association of leaders of Missionaries and Religious of Ireland) has said 41 of its religious congregations are providing an estimated 500 rooms for Ukrainian refugees. A spokesman said this accommodation “ranges from apartments, houses, to convents, student accommodation and retreat centres, right around the country”.

He added also that “a small number of religious are involved with offering English classes and pastoral care”.

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