Ukrainian families who arrived to Drumcong at the weekend
It is estimated that there are close to 300 Ukrainian refugees in Leitrim, but it is expected many more will need to find temporary shelter in the county over the coming weeks.
Sinn Féin Deputy Martin Kenny who is helping to organise accommodation for fleeing families from Ukraine said communities in Leitrim “have really stepped up” in helping these unfortunate people fleeing war. He said groups of women and children arrived in Ballinamore, Drumshanbo and Drumcong over the past week. Last week groups settled into Manorhamilton.
He said the generosity of Leitrim people offering homes, rooms, services, furniture, equipment and clothes has been “amazing.”
However Deputy Kenny told the paper this week, that there are many more Ukrainians to come. He said local authorities are being told to find community centres and buildings to temporarily shelter “busloads of people arriving daily into Dublin.” He said some families are now sleeping on the floors of community centres and do not have basic facilities such as showers.
Speaking in the Dáil last week he told members, “I spoke to people from Leitrim County Council yesterday who did not know how many refugees had come to Leitrim or how many would come. They did not know whether an emergency accommodation centre would be set up. It is the same in every county.”
Deputy Kenny said anyone in the county with an empty house or building should register with Red Cross to offer it up for shelter.
Deputy Kenny said in Aughavas they are meeting this week to discuss opening up the parochial house to accommodate some families.
He said old homes, granny flats or empty buildings are being considered first before rooms in family homes are sought.
There is no compensation available to home owners who offer up buildings but he said Ukrainian families who receive social welfare or who can gain employment are ready “to pay their way.”
All accommodation options at the moment are temporary, but Deputy Kenny said more permanent solutions will need to be sought out soon.
Deputy Kenny praised Leitrim's effort to help desperate Ukrainian families during a Dáil debate last week. He paid tribute to everyone who offered to help and donate; “that is the kind of community effort we see when people in Ireland step up to the mark. What is happening is tremendous.”
He noted that many of these people seeking refuge are qualified people, doctors, nurses and teachers who wish to work.
Noting the amazing response to the Ukrainian crisis locally, Deputy Kenny also commented, “It is not appropriate that we deal with one set of refugees differently, regardless of what agreements are in place or an international lobby tells us is the case. The reality is that the people who need help should get it, and they should get equal help regardless of where they have come from or what circumstances they have travelled in.”
He said the distance the travel is not important, we are all human and deserve help when needed.
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