Clare has one of the highest numbers of displaced Ukrainians in the country

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CO CLARE has one of the largest residents of displaced Ukrainians in the country.

More than 25,000 Ukrainian refugees have arrived in Ireland since the war in Ukraine began in late February. Clare represents about 3,000 of that total number.

Tuesday’s meeting of Clare County Council’s rural development CPS heard that the number of Ukrainians currently based in Co Clare is over 3,000. 2,000 of them live mainly in hotels, community centers and pawn houses, while another 1,000 have traveled to Clare independently and are staying with friends and family. The vast majority live in hotels funded by International Protection Accommodation Services (IPAS).

Service delivery to refugees is at “a very basic stage” with accommodation, food and shelter being provided, said Leonard Cleary, director of rural development for Clare County Council. Securing wraparound services is the next step, he advised.

He acknowledged the “huge community and willing response” of groups on the ground “well versed in meeting the needs” of people.

The population of Lisdoonvarna doubled following the arrival of more than 1000 Ukrainians. Ennis, Shannon, Kilkee, Flagmount, O’Briensbridge, Fanore, Ennistymon, Lahinch, Liscannor and Newmarket-on-Fergus have also taken in refugees.

“We’re trying to get agencies to work together to provide comprehensive services, we didn’t expect that, we don’t have the capacity to activate it for 3,000 more residents,” Cleary pointed out. The community and volunteer effort coupled with the strain on agencies over the past two months cannot be sustained, “we can’t burn out volunteers or staff or we won’t have any.”

Cleary was confident that a structured system would be in place shortly. Efforts to date are to be commended, he said. “It’s quite a challenge, it’s extremely moving, we all want to play our part in the humanitarian crisis that it is. We need a balanced service approach, it’s not a six-to-one operation. twelve weeks is a minimum of two years but more likely a long-term role. Clare has one of the highest resident Ukrainians in the country outside of Dublin, that’s testament to the response.”

Environment and Conservation Representative Anny Wise pointed to the opportunity the crisis presents to deal with vacant properties.

This sentiment was supported by Cleary, “we have a great opportunity in the midst of this crisis to use investments in vacant properties, to transform vacant stores that will never be stores again, there are a number of government programs nationals in place who need to structure together. We cannot lose sight of the long list of social housing in Clare and we cannot forget the balance”.

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Toya J. Bell