Following the temporary closure of the refugee centre in the Citywest Convention Centre as emergency accommodation area for Adult International Protection Applicants, Mayor of Kilkenny Cllr David FitzGerald has called on the Government to issue guidance on the long-term plan for Ukrainian Refugees.
Cllr FitzGerald said ‘’ we are now coming up to the first anniversary of the huge national and local response to the war in Ukraine. However one year on we have inadequate accommodation for refugees with too much emphasis on national and local hospitality, which almost twelve months ago was deemed only as an emergency measure. There is a massive impact on our tourism sector with literally no more room at the inn and the tourism industry wanting there rooms back for the market.’’
The Mayor of Kilkenny reiterated his support of Ukrainian’s since the very start of the war however said locally the increase of the displace has impacted local services.
‘’In my own private business I was one of the first in Kilkenny to display the Ukrainian flag, and in my capacity as Mayor of Kilkenny I’ve welcomed Ukrainians to Kilkenny as well as their Ambassador. However the population of Kilkenny city in the last twelve months has increased by almost 5% solely from the local response to the Ukrainian War. This has put immense pressure on local services, tourism, and the availability of short term accommodation. I’ve been contacted by the local hospital where Doctors, Consultants and Nurses on short term contracts haven’t been able to get accommodation. Local medical services, GP’s, schools have also noted the increased pressure on their services in the past year. ‘’
Cllr David FitzGerald is asking the Government and the Local Authority to move the plan from ‘emergency’ to long-term. ‘’ If this war is likely to be a long term trend we need to have a plan in place, we can’t just go week to week. Ireland has welcomed 70,000 refugees, if the UK had an equal response per capita they would have to welcome over one million Ukrainian refugees. At what point is ‘emergency’ accommodation no longer deemed as an emergency. The public needs clarity from the Government on their proposed future actions with an opportunity for public input and debate on the issue,’’ the mayor said.