Department makes plans with local hotel on Ukraine response

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A file photo of a hotel room.

The Department for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Young People has confirmed to the Westmeath Independent that it is ‘making arrangements’ with the Prince of Wales Hotel in Athlone ‘as part of the Ukrainian response”.

However, a spokesperson stressed that they were “unable to comment on the detail of contractual matters (eg number of rooms, length of contract) due to the commercially sensitive nature” of the information.

The news comes after a reader contacted the Westmeath Independent earlier this week claiming his accommodation booking had been canceled by the hotel at short notice, leaving him under pressure to find an alternative for visitors coming for a few days later.

A check of the hotel’s website shows that no rooms can be reserved before May 1, 2023.

A day Minister Roderic O’Gorman admitted that from next week the state could no longer guarantee accommodation for Ukrainian refugees and international protection seekers arriving in Ireland due to a capacity problem , his ministry stressed that he continued to “contract temporary hotel accommodation”. across the country to accommodate people fleeing the war in Ukraine” as needed.

“At present, the department has agreements with nine providers with addresses in Athlone to accommodate Ukrainian Beneficiaries of Temporary Protection (BOTPs). Contract occupancy is just under 650 people. The exact number of occupants of these premises may vary from day to day,” he added.

As refugees fear ending up on the streets, Taoiseach Micheál Martin stressed that the government “will do everything in its power to avoid and prevent” this from happening due to housing shortages.

Speaking from Brussels, he said there will be a cabinet sub-committee meeting on the matter on Monday to assess accommodation capacity across the country.

Earlier, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said Ireland was facing a refugee crisis never seen before, but sending people back was “not an option”.

The Prince of Wales Hotel has been contacted several times for comment since early last week, but so far no one has responded.


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