THE lack of housing and accommodation in Mayo for both Ukrainian refugees and locals is pitting Irish people against the Ukrainians, according to some members of Mayo County Council.
Since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine at the end of February, some 2,000 Ukrainian refugees, the majority of which are women and children, have settled in Mayo. Most are staying in hotels and guest houses as well as in pledged accommodation but the council’s Director of Services for Housing has admitted that the council are ‘under acute pressure’ to provide accommodation for new refugees.
The special meeting of Mayo County Council which was called to discuss a proposal by the OPW to build 28 modular homes in Claremorris for Ukrainian refugees heard that this proposal was not good for relations between locals and the refugees.
“They [OPW] are not doing the Ukrainian people any favours because they are now pitting them against local people and we didn’t have that before.
“They [Ukrainian refugees] were welcomed and it was our nature to welcome people, but what has gone on here is absolutely disgraceful and it has not done the Ukrainian people any favours,” Fianna Fáil councillor John Caulfield told the meeting.
Castlebar-based councillor Donna Sheridan said her heart goes out to the Ukrainian refugees but said the services are not being put in place to cater for them when they arrive.
She said she knew of one person who was being illegally evicted so the landlord could house Ukrainian refugees and get more money.
“I am aware of people who tried to illegally evict in this town and house Ukrainians because they will get more money.
“This happened and it happened less than four miles from here and the director of housing is aware of this. People are being illegally evicted to house Ukrainians and we cannot have that,” she said.
Cllr Sheridan and a number of other Castlebar-based councillors also raised the situation where a number of refugees were recently housed above a business in the N5 Business Park in Castlebar.
Cllr Ger Deere said that nobody was made aware of the situation before the refugees arrived and that housing mothers and children in a business park is not safe.
He added that the lack of consultation needs to stop before it is too late.
“We are pitting the Ukrainian and the Irish against each other which is not good and I see and hear it every day.
“It is a time bomb what is going on and we need to get our act together. Putting people in modular housing and business parks is a recipe for disaster so let’s get our act together before it gets out of control,” he said.