CONTRACTS entered into by the government to accommodate Ukrainians in Irish hotels do not include conditions for refugees to have access to swimming and leisure facilities, we can reveal.
A row erupted this week after it emerged Ukrainian residents of a hotel in Co Wicklow are instructed to go for a swim or exercise in the gym.
RTE broadcaster Joe Duffy has expressed his fury after a caller to his Liveline show revealed that Ukrainians at the hotel had to pay €5 each way to use its swimming and leisure facilities.
The appellant, a member of the hotel’s leisure centre, said she was leaving because of the decision to charge refugees for the use of the leisure facilities.
But another caller named Brian said he was paying for a leisure center membership and insisted refugees would have to pay to access leisure facilities.
The Irish Sun on Sunday may reveal that the government is leaving it up to hotels here to decide whether refugees have to turn up to use the facilities.
We know that nearly 12,000 beds have been allocated in hotels, guesthouses and guesthouses across the country for Ukrainian refugees. The refugees, mainly women and children, are accommodated on a full board basis.
But the government department responsible for providing accommodation has confirmed that use of gym and pool facilities is the business of individual hotels.
A spokesman for the Department for Children, Equality, Disability and Youth Affairs told The Irish Sun on Sunday: ‘Hotels are contracted on a bed and bed basis. a full board. Use of any additional facilities beyond this is up to the individual hotel.
The Department declined to disclose how much has been paid so far to provide housing for Ukrainian nationals.
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But Roderic O’Gorman, Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, has pledged to continue supporting refugees arriving in Ireland seeking safety and shelter. .
O’Gorman’s department spokesman told us: “The government is committed to providing a humanitarian response to accommodate people fleeing war in Ukraine and seeking protection in Ireland.
“The ministry is contracting with hotels across the country to accommodate people fleeing Ukraine when needed.
“At this time it is not possible to provide a breakdown of the figures as these are constantly changing depending on the number of arrivals from Ukraine arriving in the country daily.
“The International Protective Accommodation Service has contracted approximately 11,500 beds in hotels, guesthouses and bed and breakfasts, with additional capacity also sought through hostels, commercial self-catering accommodation, accommodation promised by the general public, religious properties and local authority facilities. It is not possible to provide a specific breakdown of accommodation types.
“The department is unable to comment on subcontractors or contractual matters due to the commercially sensitive nature of this information.”
A woman who called Liveline told host Duffy that she canceled her gym membership in protest. Duffy slammed the caller Brian saying, “Shame on you.”
The hotel did not respond to questions.