24 Sept 2022

'Shocked and horrified' Ukraine family given two days to leave Laois

'Shocked and horrified' Ukraine family given two days to leave Laois

A Ukraine flag

A Ukrainian family of war refugees have been given less that two days notice to pack up and move schools and jobs to another county.

It is understood that a family with young children was given notice on September 20 to leave their accommodation in Portlaoise having lived there for six months and settled into the community. They have been given an address in Kilkenny to arrive at on the morning of September 22.

Their temporary home in Portlaoise is one of several owned by a local social housing agency called Dídean who bought and furnished homes as a better alternative to the Government than direct provision centres which are soon to shut down.

The notice to the Ukraine family to move came from the Department of Children, Equality, Disability Integration and Youth.

Community group Laois Integration Network (LIN) has highlighted the situation that they say has "shocked and horrified" them.

Karen McHugh is LIN Chairperson.

"We are shocked and horrified that Ukrainian refugees are given such short notice.  These families have jobs in Laois, they have children in schools in Laois.  How can this be happening?  This is simply not acceptable,’ she said.

LIN has been working to help Ukrainian refugees in Laois since their arrival in February

The notification was given by the International Protection Accommodation Service (IPAS) to Dídean housing agency in Laois which has housed these families.  

"This is absolutely crazy. We are very concerned about the families being given such short notice, especially during school term. Furthermore, some of the parents are working locally. We understand that the Dídean accommodation was only temporary, but how can it be right that families are given just over one days’ notice? A lot of these families that are in these houses are mothers with newborn babies, some with special needs and other famiies with medical needs."

They are asking for an urgent alternative.

"We in LIN appeal to our local politicians and to Laois County Council to ensure that this does not happen. We also appeal to Dídean housing agency to insist that their contracts are extended with immediate effect," said Ms McHugh. 

A neighbour to the family is also seeking support for them.

"This famiy of four consists oftwo parents and two young children, one with a disability. They have slowly been integrated into the Laois community. The husband successfully employed and the children have been welcomed and formed solid friendships at our local schools. 

£This family's efforts to search for independent accommodation has in this housing crises been fraught with great difficulty. Numerous correspondence from the family to the Government department has recerived no responses. This government body has ordered them to move to another county, this requires for the husband to look for another job, search for schools for their children with no adequate transport and 7km away from the main centre oftown. this is a human rights issue," the neighbour said.

The Dept of Children has issued the following statement.

"The people referred to below were placed temporarily in accommodation that was successful in a tender process for international protection accommodation.  In view of the severe shortage of accommodation for international protection applicants, it is necessary for any Beneficiary of Temporary Protection to be moved to alternative accommodation if temporarily accommodated in international protection accommodation which is now needed for international protection applicants.     

"Such moves take place only where necessary.  The Department of Children, Equality, Disability Integration and Youth is now working with our implementing partners and accommodation providers to make this move as easy as possible for those affected." 

Dídean has been contacted for comment.

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