THE Department of Integration has recommenced its trawl for refugee accommodation in Donegal following a pause in the wake of the Creeslough tragedy.
Donegal County Council contacted Minister Roderic O’Gorman in October to ask that its personnel be allowed to focus on the response to the blast which killed ten people.
But reacting to a parliamentary question from Sinn Féin Deputy Pearse Doherty, Minister O’Gorman confirmed that his department had relaunched its call for property owners to come forward. He added that 130 contracts had been agreed so far with people in Donegal offering accommodation for those fleeing war.
Minister O’Gorman said, “I can confirm to the deputy that my department is procuring and allocating accommodation in County Donegal for the purposes of providing shelter to those fleeing the war in Ukraine.
“My department did respect a request from the local authority in Donegal to introduce a pause on allocating beneficiaries of temporary protection in the aftermath of the tragedy in Creeslough with services focused on the response at that time.
“The pause was lifted some weeks ago and officials in the procurement division within my department are engaging with Donegal County Council in regard to accommodation.”
A total of 300 property owners have come forward in response to the appeal by the Department of Integration.
Some of those were dismissed as they did not meet the criteria which included, amongst others, the potential impact on the local private rental market. Others are still awaiting assessment.
Pearse Doherty asked for the number of offers of accommodation on a commercial basis that have been made to house Ukrainian refugees in County Donegal.
He also wanted to know the number of applications approved by International Protection Accommodation Services and the number of applications yet to be approved.
But he also requested a breakdown of where in Donegal refugees are being housed. He was told that Letterkenny has the largest cohort with 593, followed closely by Bundoran where 587 protection applicants are staying.
Third on the list is Carndonagh (218) followed by Killybegs (186), Milford (183) and Ballybofey (182). In total 4,888 Ukrainian nationals are now located in Donegal.
Roderic O’Gorman said he wanted thank everyone in the county who had “contributed so much as part of the humanitarian response to welcoming those fleeing the war in Ukraine”.
Meanwhile figures released this week show 118 unoccupied homes in Donegal have been offered to Donegal County Council to house Ukrainian refugees.
The homes have been offered under the ‘Offer-a-home Scheme’ introduced two months ago. Home owners who make their property available will be entitled to a payment from the state of €800 per month.
1,200 Ukrainian pupils are currently enrolled in Donegal schools. As of January, 31, 1,221 Ukrainian pupils have been enrolled in schools across Donegal.
Out of that figure, 787 of these pupils have been accommodated in primary schools while 434 pupils have enrolled in post-primary schools.