Relocation Of Shannon Ukrainians To North Clare To Have “Devastating” Mental Health Effect

The planned relocation of over 70 Shannon-based Ukrainian refugees to North Clare is predicted to have a “devastating” impact on the mental health of those being moved.

The Department of Integration has confirmed its contract with the owner of the Phoenix House accommodation centre in the Shannon Town Centre has been terminated “as part of the Government’s policy of reducing its accommodation portfolio”.

One week ago, the 75 residents of Phoenix House, many of whom have been there for over two years, woke up to a letter from International Protection Accommodation Services informing them of a decision to relocate them to Lisdoonvarna on June 24th.

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Minister for Integration Roderick O’Gorman claims this decision was made “due to concerns raised following a site visit” of inspectors.

While Beneficiaries of Temporary Protection are free to seek private housing, much criticism has been expressed regarding the two-week timeframe residents have been given.

Nataliia Bozhyk, who lived at Phoenix House up until recently, doesn’t believe the concerns in relation to the building are significant enough to warrant uprooting the residents once again.

Four of those living in Phoenix House work in Zest in Shannon Airport.

Managing Director of Zest Ean Malone says they’ll be forced to leave their jobs as they won’t be able to find housing before the contract with Phoenix House finishes.

Roughly 9.5% of North Clare is now Ukrainian and with the large population increase in the area within the last year, much concern has been expressed that Ukrainian children moving from Shannon won’t be able to get a place in school.

Jane O’Leary, who’s the principal of St. Senan’s National School where one Phoenix House resident is enrolled, worries about the effect the move will have on the child’s education and development.

In a statement to Clare FM, the Department of Integration says while it “understands the stress that this move will cause, all accommodation arrangements provided by the Government are temporary”.

“Those who have fled the war in Ukraine, who are considering staying longer term in Ireland are regularly encouraged to make their own independent arrangements for accommodation using the options available to them such as pledged or Offer a Home properties, or to rent privately using supports such as rent supplement if eligible, or their salaries when they are in employment”.

Shannon resident and Clare Regional Integration Community Forum member Siobhan Boyd says the move is coming at a time when the residents have just managed to feel at home in Shannon.

You can listen to the full report below.