CO CLARE has one of the highest residents of displaced Ukrainians in the country.

More than 25,000 Ukrainian refugees have arrived into Ireland since the war in Ukraine began at the end of February. Clare accounts for an approximate 3,000 of this total number.

Tuesday’s meeting of the Rural Development SPC of Clare County Council heard that the amount of Ukrainians now based in Co Clare is over 3000. 2000 of these are primarily living in hotels, community centres and pledged houses while a further 1000 travelled to Clare independently and are staying with friends and family. The vast majority are living in hotels funded by International Protection Accommodation Services (IPAS).

Service provision for the refugees is at “a very basic stage” with accommodation, food and shelter provided, Director of Rural Development with Clare County Council, Leonard Cleary outlined. Securing wrap-around services is the next step, he advised.

He acknowledged the “huge community and voluntary response” by groups on the ground “well versed in responding to the needs” of people.

Lisdoonvarna’s population has doubled following the arrival of well over 1000 Ukrainians. Ennis, Shannon, Kilkee, Flagmount, O’Briensbridge, Fanore, Ennistymon, Lahinch, Liscannor and Newmarket-on-Fergus have also welcomed refugees.

“We’re trying to get the agencies to work together to deliver the wraparound services, we weren’t expecting this, we haven’t the capacity to switch on this for an additional 3000 residents,” Cleary stressed. The community and voluntary effort coupled with the stretch on agencies experienced over the past two months cannot be sustained, “we can’t burn out volunteers or staff or we will have none left”.

Cleary was confident a structured system would be put in place imminently. The efforts to date must be commended, he said. “It is quite a challenge, it is hugely emotive, we all want to play our part in the humanitarian crisis that it is. We need a balanced service approach, this not a six to twelve week operation, it is minimum two years but more likely a long-term role. Clare has one of the highest residents of Ukrainians in the country bar Dublin, that is testament to the response”.

Environment and conservation representative, Anny Wise flagged the opportunity posed by the crisis to deal with vacant properties.

This sentiment was supported by Cleary, “we have a great opportunity in the midst of this crisis to utilise investment into vacant properties, to turn around vacant shops that will never be shops again, there are a number of national Government schemes in place that need to be structured together. We cannot lose sight of the long social housing list in Clare and we cannot forget the balance”.

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