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Empty Dublin 4 hospital may be used as housing hub for Ukrainian refugees


The Royal City of Dublin Hospital in Upper Baggot Street in the city

The Royal City of Dublin Hospital in Upper Baggot Street in the city

The Royal City of Dublin Hospital in Upper Baggot Street in the city

The empty Royal City of Dublin hospital building in Dublin’s Upper Baggot Street is being considered as a potential accommodation hub for Ukrainian refugees, following a campaign by local businesses and residents.

The group has been urging the HSE to convert the landmark building into a residential centre for families fleeing the war in Ukraine.

The HSE has now forwarded the name of the hospital for consideration by the International Protection Accommodation Service (IPAS), which is responsible for providing accommodation for people seeking protection here.

Labour Party Councillor Dermot Lacey said the HSE confirmed the development at a meeting of the Regional Health Forum in Dublin last week.

Mr Lacey had previously said it was “quite shameful” that the hospital had been empty for long and urged the HSE to make it available for Ukrainian refugees.

The Royal City of Dublin Hospital is a historic listed building of 5,600 sq m and occupies a prominent position in Dublin’s Baggot Street.

The HSE has used part of the building for community health services, but the main building is in disrepair and unoccupied.

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A company, PJ McGrath Group, has offered to provide builders to convert the property for free, so that Ukrainian families can be accommodated there.

Company co-founder Mary McGrath said the conversion of the building will be complex because the building does not currently have planning permission for residential use and is also a protected structure.

Business owners including Mick Quinn, owner of the Lansdowne Hotel and the Waterloo Pub, are also supporting the project.

The development comes as the Government faces mounting challenges in accommodating all those arriving in Ireland from Ukraine.

The Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee, acknowledged the challenges last week but indicated the Government will not put a cap on the numbers of people the country will host.

Around 25,000 refugees have arrived since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24.

However, the Irish Red Cross, which is coordinating the pledges of accommodation, released new figures that show that half of the offers have failed to materialise.

Of just over 24,000 offers received, more than 3,000 were withdrawn and 9,184 property owners were uncontactable.

The Government is now considering paying households that take in Ukrainian refugees €400 a month towards costs, and to potentially encourage people to open up their homes to refugees.

The first mass residential centre at Mill Street in Cork opened last week and is accommodating 70 refugees. More emergency centres are expected to follow.

The HSE referred queries about the Royal City of Dublin Hospital to the Department of Children, Integration and Youth.

The department said: “To meet the challenge of finding sufficient and suitable accommodation for Ukrainian families arriving here, in addition to hotels, tourist accommodation, and accommodation pledges made through the Irish Red Cross, the Government is identifying state-owned or Local Authority properties which may be suitable for accommodation.

"There is ongoing engagement across all sectors to seek to identify potential properties that might be used.”

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