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*The Hydro Hotel in Lisdoonvarna signed a contract worth €1.53m to house displaced Ukrainians.

A WEST CLARE representative has said it is “absolutely critical” that the amount of hotel bedrooms unavailable in the county due to displaced Ukrainians be made known.

As reported by The Clare Echo last month, Government contracts were signed with seven accommodation providers in the county worth a cumulative €6.36m to house Ukrainian refugees in the second quarter of this year.

Latest information from Clare County Council indicates that approximately 2,700 displaced Ukrainians are living in hotel or hostel accommodation across 23 premises in 12 towns and villages in the county. “While it is difficult to be accurate with projections it is expected that these numbers will rise during in the coming month,” a member of senior management stated.

Speaking at Monday’s meeting of the County Council, Cllr Cillian Murphy (FF) led the call to ascertain how many hotel bedrooms are out of circulation off the back of housing displaced Ukrainians. “We need to understand the implications on next year’s tourism offering”.

Cllr Cillian Murphy. Photograph by Eamon Ward

Clarity was also sought by the Kilkee representative on the services offered by the accommodation providers to their guests, “this should not be a secret, it is public money that is being spent”.

Pat Dowling, Chief Executive of the Council in response said that there were “commercial sensitivities” attached to the matter. He said that individual meetings in each Municipal District would be arranged.

In July, a new directorate was established in the Council to respond to the impact of the ongoing crisis in the Ukraine. The new directorate is led by Acting Director of Services, Jason Murphy with Administrative Officer, Pádraig MacCormaic. New members will be joining the team in September.

Dowling’s monthly management report detailed that their rest centre based in the Quin Rd, Ennis which has capacity for 30 people was developed by the members of the Clare Civil Defence “and has proven to be a vital focal point in the County’s response efforts. The facility is a credit to the Civil Defence Team and the volunteers who spent many hours building and operating it over the last number of months”. He said that arrangements are to be finalised for the ongoing facility management of the service.

A second centre is managed and operated through Obair in Newmarket-on-Fergus. It has capacity for between 10-20 depending on the nature of family units.

Through the pledged property call made through Irish Red Cross in March, the Council are working in partnership with Mid-West Simon to match Ukrainian individuals and families to approximately 35 remaining pledged properties.

Dowling said that the Ukrainian Hub established and run by Mná Ag Gáire’ “has proven very successful in Ennis. It provides a venue for a pop-up shop and is an ideal location for meet and greets, training courses, yoga, art and many other classes and activities”.

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