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Councillor Joe Garrihy: "The challenges really are with the Ukrainian people, what they've had to deal with, what they've left and the ongoing situation. Accommodating them as best we can is the test here."

Appeal for more support in responding to Clare’s refugees

“MORE boots on the ground” are being sought to support Ukrainian refugees and the communities welcoming them to Clare. 

The appeal came from Councillor Joe Garrihy, who said he is “immensely proud” of the response of communities in Clare. The Lisdoonvarna man, who has been helping to spearhead relief efforts in North Clare, made his call in response to an update from Chief Executive Pat Dowling. 

“We have gone from a national high of 750 to between 100 and 150 per day,”” Mr Dowling said. “Most definitely, the numbers have softened somewhat.”

In response to an update request from Mary Howard, Mr Dowling said that there are an estimated 2,200 Ukrainian nationals now in Clare. “We had some additional arrivals over the weekend,” he said. “These were small enough numbers. Those that were accommodation in Quin Road have been now relocated to Rowan Tree building, The Abbey Hostel. That Quin Road emergency facility remains available and we have another facility available. Every county has been asked to have a certain level of capacity available. We have some capacity, but I wouldnt be advertising it. We have done our fair share in Co Clare.”

Mr Dowling noted that long-term planning needed to be done around the issue of accommodation. “The great majority of people who have come here are in hotels and similar accommodation,” he said. “Weve got to plan and look ahead at the sustainability of that. We have heard that local government will be taking a more central role in coordinating the response. We have responded as a sector. Members of the LGMA (Local Government Management Agency) have engaged around that roll out. We havent heard any further detail following ministers communication and an announcement from Taoiseach. If we did, we would proceeding at pace to appoint staff in Clare to ensure function is carried out as soon as possible.

“The numbers have slowed a little bit in context of Clare. Last Friday, four local authoriities were asked to accommodate significant numbers of refugees. We were not one of those, but it is an ever-changing situation. We must be ready to react. There will be very little notice, but I am confident, through Anne [Haugh] and team, that we are planning ahead.”

Councillor Garrihy welcomed the update and in particular, the publication on the Council’s website of one-stop-shop for information. “That’s a very good, positive move.,” he said. “There is work going on to translate into Ukrainian.”

The Fine Gael member also repeated his calls, at previous meetings, for more support. 

“Communities are still carrying the vast burden of this and working with the Ukrainian people in a very positive way,” he said.

“I for one am very proud of our communities. I will reiterate the call for more support on the ground in coordinating and signposting. We still have very large numbers of people who need our support. I dont think I can emphasise that enough. Theyre facing the reality after six to eight weeks of adrenaline that carried them here to Clare and the devastation they can see online and on social media, I cant reiterate strongly enough how proud I am of communities, but I think they need more support.

“I am very cognisant of the issues of resources, but I cant reiterate it strongly enough, we need more boots on the ground.”

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