Director of Services for Housing says second homes are ‘obvious low-hanging fruit’
MAYO County Council’s Director of Services for Housing has said vacant holiday homes could brought into use as accommodation for Ukrainian refugees.
Tom Gilligan appealed to people on Twitter to consider registering their vacant properties with the Irish Red Cross, which is currently assisting refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine.
“According to the census there are 4,855 vacant holiday homes in Mayo,” Mr Gilligan wrote. “We need vacant properties to be brought back into use.”
Mr Gilligan told The Mayo News yesterday (Monday) that Mayo will probably have to take in ‘a couple of hundred’ refugees from Ukraine.
In the past week a number of Ukrainian refugees have arrived in Mayo, many of whom are being accommodated with host families.
It has been predicted that over 100,000 people could seek refuge in Ireland from a war that has already displaced millions.
“What I was highlighting [when posting on Twitter] was the fact that we have over 4,000 vacant holiday homes in the country. I’m not saying it’ll solve the crisis, but to me it’s obvious low-hanging fruit,” he said.
“Those holiday homes are vacant for most of the year. These people will want it for six to 12 months. For me it’s a matter of bringing the two together.”
Mr Gilligan previously said it was ‘not going to be easy’ for the Council to provide accommodation and services for an influx of refugees.
Currently, Mayo County Council is compiling a list of buildings that may be appropriate to be used as refugee accommodation. Buildings such as the former Ballina Garda Barracks and the old courthouse in Westport are under consideration, according Mr Gilligan.
“They are looking at [being used for] six to 12 months and then management facilities will be put in place to run any facilities taken up, with the detail worked out in the facilities selected,” he said.
Mr Gilligan said interest in the Vacanthomes.ie website, of which he a founder, has spiked since the onset of the war.
“I do know, from around the county, one or two people who have given up a second property to Ukrainians,” he said.
“Maybe there needs to be some sort of coordination with the Government in relation to compensating people for that, but to me the quickest solution is to get those holiday homes back into use. Even if you only got a couple of hundred, from Mayo’s point of view it would deal with a lot of the immediate issues.”