The State is facing mounting pressure to secure accommodation for the continuing numbers of people arriving who are fleeing the war in Ukraine, as well as asylum-seekers from other countries. File photograph
Modular homes planned to accommodate some 2,000 Ukrainian refugees may not be ready until the start of next year if builders face delays, according to one large Irish supplier of the rapid-build housing.
The State is facing mounting pressure to secure accommodation for the continuing numbers of people arriving who are fleeing the war in Ukraine, as well as asylum-seekers from other countries.
The main reception facility at Citywest in Dublin reached full capacity on Wednesday, leading to many new arrivals having to stay in the old central terminal building at Dublin Airport due to a lack of alternative accommodation.
From Monday, Ukrainian refugees and other asylum-seekers will be housed in tents set up at the Defence Forces Gormanston camp in Co Meath. It is expected that about 150 people will be accommodated at the site next week, increasing up to 320 the following week.
Amid the pressure on the State to find extra housing, a fast-track selection process to choose companies to supply 500 modular housing units is expected to begin within the next 10 days, sources said.
When the modular housing plan was announced in late June the Government indicated the first homes could be ready by November.
However, Sharon Lynch, head of business development at MHI, a large Irish supplier of modular homes, said that in a “worst case scenario” the housing may not materialise until the start of next year.
Between the design, planning and factory-build process, it could take one supplier between two or three months to deliver 100 units, she said. One potential major delay could be connecting the modular homes to water and electricity supplies, she added.
It is understood a number of emergency modular accommodation suppliers outside of Ireland made contact with Government officials in late March and early April, with offers to supply up to 300 units a month, which have yet to be taken up.
At a meeting of the Cabinet sub-committee on the Ukraine crisis in recent weeks, sources said Taoiseach Micheál Martin strongly expressed frustrations that “red tape” should not be holding up the delivery of modular housing plans.
Officials are hopeful a main contractor to supply the modular homes could be selected by the end of this month. The two-bed homes will be able to house up to four people, and be spread across 20 sites, mostly in urban areas and close to facilities needed by families, including schools.
Aside from the more than 40,600 people who have arrived from Ukraine fleeing the Russian invasion, some 7,080 asylum seekers from other countries have arrived this year, with more than double the numbers in the asylum system now compared to last year.
In a statement on Thursday, the Government said it was prioritising moving more vulnerable people from Dublin Airport, with 160 transferred elsewhere on Thursday.
The statement said a “second transit hub” would be opened to relieve pressure on the Citywest facility, “to deal with the unprecedented volume of arrivals”.
Dublin Fire Brigade chief fire officer Dennis Keeley, who is involved in coordinating the Ukraine crisis response across Dublin, Wicklow and Kildare local councils, said it was clear “the system is becoming choked”.
Nick Henderson, chief executive of the Irish Refugee Council, said he was “very concerned” that State-provided accommodation had reached capacity. There was an “urgent need for a new plan to address this unprecedented situation,” he said.