Republic of Ireland news

Investigation after fire breaks out at Kildare equestrian centre

The centre had been earmarked to house hundreds of Ukrainian refugees.
Gráinne Ní Aodha, PA

An investigation is under way after a fire broke out at an equestrian centre shed in Co Kildare reportedly earmarked for use as a home for Ukrainian refugees.

The fire broke out in a shed at the back of the privately-owned Kill Equestrian Centre shortly after 8pm on Sunday.

The fire was brought under control by firefighters and no-one is reported to have been injured.

The site has been reportedly earmarked to house hundreds of Ukrainian refugees amid a severe shortage of suitable accommodation across Ireland.

A Garda statement said that a protest/demonstration held by a group of people outside the equestrian centre earlier on Sunday had “passed off without incident”.

A public meeting had been held on Friday where local people voiced their concerns about turning what has been called “an agricultural barn” into a temporary emergency accommodation centre.

Kildare councillor and mayor Fintan Brett said the concerns were that the centre is unsuitable as a home and is without lights, ventilation and possibly without a sewerage system.

“It’s a mile outside the village,” he told local radio station KFM on Friday.

“When you have a group of people that are already traumatised, mostly women and children, and they’re asked to go live in a barn, I don’t think that’s going to help their mental health.”

Gardai said an investigation was under way.

Ireland has accommodated up to 56,000 men, women and children from Ukraine since the Russian invasion began in February, with more than 14,000 Ukrainian children attending Irish primary and secondary schools.

In an attempt to streamline the process, the Cabinet decided that from December, Ukrainians will be offered accommodation only, and those living in hotels will be partly charged for their meals.

A refusals policy has also been introduced which means refugees who refuse an offer of suitable accommodation will not be offered another option.

The Irish Government also agreed to double the payments for people hosting Ukrainian refugees to 800 euro.

Ministers have repeatedly warned of the challenge of sourcing accommodation amid Ireland’s years-long housing crisis, and warned last month that newly arriving refugees may have to sleep on the streets while accommodation is sourced.

The Government had asked its departments to list public buildings that could be modified as emergency accommodation for any newly arriving Ukrainian nationals.

The first contract to deliver 500 modular homes for people from Ukraine will be completed in early 2023.

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