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Áras Attracta to house 150 Ukrainians


A NEW PURPOSE? Áras Attracta in Swinford, closed after abuse of service users which came to light from RTÉ Prime Time Investigates, could be used to house Ukrainian refugees.

Oisín McGovern

ÁRAS Attracta in Swinford is currently being considered to house up to 150 Ukrainian refugees, The Mayo News has learned.
Mayo County Council is currently looking to housing refugees from Ukraine in residential housing units at the facility.
Other large units such as a gym, canteens, and meeting rooms would offer up to 5,000 square feet of space in total.
Áras Attracta made national headlines in 2014 when RTÉ broadcast secret footage of staff abusing residents at the residential centre.
Mayo County Council’s Director of Services for Housing, Tom Gilligan, told this newspaper that between 120 and 150 people could be accommodated at the facility.
The county council are currently in discussions with the Department of An Taoiseach and the HSE in relation to using the facility.
Speaking to The Mayo News as part of our coverage marking the one-year anniversary of the war in Ukraine, Mr Gilligan said that the local authority was looking to move away from using hotels and B&Bs to accommodate Ukrainian refugees.
Over 90 percent of Ukrainian refugees in Mayo are being accommodated in hotels, B&Bs and guesthouses while only 405 people are living in accommodation pledged by the public.
“We have a number of buildings that we have earmarked that we’re working towards in order to bring those buildings into use for refugees,” Mr Gilligan said.
“At this moment in time what we anticipate is that there probably will be less reliance on the likes of hotels and B&Bs but we have to gear up towards that. That’s what we’re doing at this stage, we’re working our way towards that in order for that to happen.”
As of February 12, 3,327 refugees from Ukraine had fled to Mayo since the start of the war in Ukraine.
Approximately 40 providers are currently providing refugee accommodation in Mayo.
Mr Gilligan said that Mayo County Council estimated that between 30 and 50 Ukrainian refugees are currently arriving into the county per week.
“The reality is we are still under huge pressure to provide accommodation and get different accommodation,” he said.

ELSEWHERE, negotiations remain ongoing regarding the use of a hostel in Ballycastle as refugee accommodation.
Mayo County Council are currently finalising discussions to use the facility to accommodate up to 50 Ukrainian refugees.
Speaking to The Mayo News, local county councillor Jarlath Munnelly said consultation must take place immediately once arrangements to use the hostel have been confirmed.
Cllr Munnelly said that more resources for public transport, education and medical services may be needed if the village is to accommodate an extra 50 people.
The modern facility was purpose-built as tourist accommodation and was used as a base for competitors in the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series in 2021.
Cllr Munnelly said that locals would like to see the facility brought back into use as tourist accommodation in the medium to long-term.
“In the short-term, if there’s agreement to bring in Ukrainian refugees that Mayo County Council, the department responsible can learn from the experiences, can engage people locally, can provide services locally as well and can make it a better outcome rather than leave people to their own devices,” he said.