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Delivery of modular homes for Ukrainian refugees ‘slower than one would have wished’, says Minister

May 13, 2023May 13, 2023

The delivery of modular homes for Ukrainian refugees has "been slower than one would have wished", Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien has said.

On Monday, The Irish Times reported that under new plans being considered by senior officials, the Coalition may turn to the private sector to fast-track the delivery of modular units for refugees and asylum seekers.

Politicians will also be told this week that more beds available to accommodate asylum seekers and refugees are going to be lost in the next two weeks because hotels are pivoting back to using their rooms for tourism purposes. Up to 128 asylum seekers and refugees could shortly be placed in new tented accommodation in Mullingar Barracks.

Earlier this month, it emerged that up to half of the 700 quick-build modular houses approved by the Government to house Ukrainian refugees might not be completed by the end of the year due to difficulties assessing suitable sites. The original completion date for those modular units on State land was November 2022, but the process has been beset by delays.

[ State may use private modular units for refugees as hotels return to tourism ]

Speaking to reporters on Monday, Mr O’Brien said there are 750 homes that will be delivered on those sites.

"My own department actually provided the sites for that. Yes, it has been slower than one would have wished but the OPW [Office of Public Works] has done a good job in moving that forward."

Mr O’Brien said the "main thing" to remember was the State has accommodated nearly 100,000 additional asylum seekers and refugees.

"It hasn't been without its challenges, there's no question about that, but Ireland is a welcoming country," he added.

In an interview with The Irish Times at the weekend, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said his priority in housing policy is increasing home ownership.

Asked if he was of the same view, Mr O’Brien said both home ownership and social housing are important in tackling the housing crisis.

"I want people to be able to buy their own home, that's why I brought forward the First Home Scheme. That has worked really, really well. That's why we’ve expanded the Help to Buy grant. We want to see a reversal in home ownership," he said.

"But that's not at the expense of delivery social housing at scale, it isn't. We need to ensure that across all tenures – across social housing, across private, across affordable, and yes, we need a functioning rental sector too; We need homes for people to rent also."

Mr O’Brien was speaking at the official opening of a creative media studio and remote working hub at Drinan Enterprise Centre in Swords, Co Dublin.

The provision of the new facilities provides increased infrastructure to new business start-ups, existing enterprises, remote workers, creative media professionals and community organisations in North Dublin.

The Studio Drinan provides technical equipment to enable individuals to utilise the power of social media through podcasts, YouTube videos and other platforms.

Speaking about the new facilities, AnnMarie Farrelly, chief executive of Fingal County Council said the reality of work and employment is "constantly changing".

"This addresses two features of workplace change namely, how we can work remotely, and how we creatively communicate and promote our products and services using technology."