The GAA has told the Government that it is unlikely to be able to help provide accommodation for Ukrainian refugees until the new year due to the beginning of its club season.
This comes as the Irish Daily Mail has learned that seven hotels have chosen not to renew contracts with the Department of Integration to host Ukrainians.
The government is continuing to face issues of sourcing accommodation for those seeking refuge from the war. It is estimated that up to 50,000 refugees will have arrived in Ireland by the end of this month.
It has now been told by the GAA that the organization is unlikely to be able to assist or provide accommodation until after the winter.
The Government had issued fresh appeals to sporting organizations over the last number of weeks. GAA community and health manager Colin Regan told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland yesterday that the request for accommodation had come at a ‘difficult time’.
‘Unfortunately, the latest call coincides with the beginning of the club championship season, which places extensive demand on all GAA facilities at both club and county level,’ he said.
It means that the likelihood of any suitable accommodation becoming available in this very period is extremely limited.
While a senior team may be knocked out of the championship, as we know, clubs will be catering for a whole swathe of underage and a myriad of adult teams right until the end of the club championship season, which will run in some counties for some clubs right up to the end of the year.’
An Irish Rugby Football Union spokesperson told the Irish Daily Mail it has been in ‘ongoing communication’ with the Government.
Following a conversation with government officials in July, the IRFU and FAI, through Aviva Stadium Limited, were pleased to facilitate the hosting of Ukrainian refugees at the Aviva Stadium to alleviate some of the pressure on the system and provide temporary safe accommodation to those who have experienced great loss, anxiety, and grief,’ they said.
The usage of the facility is coordinated between Aviva Stadium Limited and Government departments, as it was during Covid when it was made available for the vaccination and testing program.
In response to a request by the Government in April, the IRFU asked clubs across the country to consider if they have facilities that may be suitable, and available, for use, and to seek further information from the contacts provided to us by the Government.’
The IRFU was not able to provide a list of any offers of accommodation, noting that this is ‘handled locally and co-ordinated by government departments’.
A spokesperson for the Football Association of Ireland, meanwhile, said the organization remains ‘fully committed to supporting our friends from Ukraine in any way we can’.
They added: ‘The association remains engaged in regular dialogue with the Government and all relevant agencies on how best we can assist in this difficult time and indeed we have already done so at club and association level, having asked our clubs to support the
Government appeal for assistance in any possible way.’
Last week, 100 refugees slept on camp beds in the Aviva Stadium. This was a one-week-only deal.
As reported by the Mail this week, the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth has awarded contracts worth in the region of €100 million to businesses across the country to provide refuge to Ukrainians arriving in Ireland.
There were 88 contracts awarded to hotels, hostels and other businesses in the second quarter of 2022. Another four contracts were issued in the first three months of the year.
A spokesperson for the Department of Integration told the Mail that it was ‘not in a position to provide a list of hotels who have not renewed their contracts, but can confirm that only a small minority have not renewed their contracts’.
They later confirmed that seven hotels have not renewed their contracts. Tender documents show that around 50 contracts were awarded to hotels in the first six months of the year.
The Mail understands that the Department of Integration accepts that sourcing accommodation will continue to pose a challenge over the coming months.
The most immediate issue is moving refugees out of student accommodation and into pledged accommodation before students return to campuses next month.
A spokesperson for the Department of Justice confirmed that as of Thursday, 43,972 Ukrainian refugees had arrived in Ireland. This compares to 43,274 at the same point last week, meaning an additional 698 people arrived in the space of seven days.
At least 33,220 of the arrivals have been referred to the Ukrainian Crisis Temporary Accommodation Team (UCTAT).
A total of 195 Ukrainians spent the night at Citywest in Dublin on Thursday. Another 48 spent the night at Gormanston in Co. Meath and were due to leave the camp yesterday.
A spokesperson for the Department of Integration said that it does not have a breakdown of how many of these are hotels, guesthouses, or other accommodation types. They said that 430 accommodation providers have been contracted with the department since March.