WITH more than 1,000 Ukrainian refugees based in the county, Fine Gael TD Joe Carey has paid tribute to the generous spirit of the hundreds of Clare people who are providing shelter and support to the new arrivals.

He made special mention of the example being set by local communities in Kilkee, Ballyvaughan and Lisdoonvarna where more than 500 Ukrainian refugees are now based.

“The fantastic response of teachers and staff in the local primary and secondary schools has given new meaning to the old saying that ‘in Clare, we care’. 

This has been backed up by fundraising and offers of accommodation that clearly demonstrate the humanity and basic decency of Clare communities,” Deputy Carey declared.

“Such an overwhelming response to a crisis of this scale presents challenges, notably in terms of finding sufficient and suitable accommodation for the Ukrainian families arriving here.

“Lisdoonvarna Fáilte, under the guidance of Jacqueline McCoy, is doing amazing work acting as liaison group between the Ukrainian refugees, State agencies, local groups and accommodation providers.

“Of the Ukrainian arrivals to date, the gender ratio is approximately two-thirds female and one third male, with around a third under the age of 18.

“In addition to hotels, tourist accommodation and the accommodation pledges made through the Irish Red Cross, the Government is identifying State-owned properties which may be suitable for immediate and longer-term accommodation needs.

“There is also ongoing engagement with the religious communities and others to seek to identify potential properties that might be used.

“At Wednesday night’s parliamentary party meeting, we were told that we could have up to 40,000 refugees by the end of April and we must find them housing.

“Very significant work is taking place to provide accommodation and other essential supports to those who have arrived here already, as well as the large numbers that are expected to arrive. This is being supported by the Defence Forces and Civil Defence.

“The ongoing work in providing accommodation, health, education and income supports necessary for people arriving here from Ukraine is taking place with the support of the Irish Red Cross and many NGOs and charities across the country.

“In the coming week, the Department will also begin to utilise accommodation pledged through the Irish Red Cross, focusing initially on vacant homes.

“Ukrainian nationals will be able to get health care services from the HSE including access to Covid-19 vaccinations, GPs, community care and hospital or emergency care. As well as access to services for children’s health, mental health, disabilities, maternity care, older people and many more.

“In addition, HSE public health teams are conducting risk assessments in relation to Covid and other health issues including infectious diseases. The priority is to have good information and Covid supports on hand and arrange a rapid health response in congregated settings as well as in the community,” Deputy Carey concluded.

Photo: Ukrainian students in class at Mary Immaculate Secondary School, Lisdoonvarna