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Electric Picnic tents to house up to 750 Ukrainian refugees

Electric Picnic tents housing up to 750 Ukrainian refugees are to be used in Stradbally, Co Laois for six weeks.

A spokesman for the Department of Equality, which administers emergency refugee accommodation, confirmed the move following this year’s festival.

The bell tents, which had been constructed on site in advance of the festival, will be used to house family units as pressure on the system continues with hundreds of new arrivals every week.

The site was of considerable interest to officials because of its post-festival ability to provide fast resources, including tents and personal hygiene facilities.

Last week it emerged that tents were to be used to house refugees due to a significant shortfall in accommodation options.

The Stradbally tents are to be moved and configured to “ensure normal standards of emergency accommodation for families”, the spokesman said.

Over the summer the number of arrivals from Ukraine has grown, with more than 10,000 people arriving since the beginning of May, or an average of about 650 people per week.

A circulated briefing document said the emergency accommodation on the Stradbally Estate would be on a grassland site surrounded by fencing.

“The secure site will be configured to hold a series of bell tents with three-person and six-person family configurations as required,” it said.

“The maximum capacity is for 750 people. The residency will be entirely made up of beneficiaries of temporary protection from Ukraine. The profile of arrivals fleeing the war in Ukraine to date is mainly women and children.”

The accommodation is for temporary short-term use and efforts are under way to secure other options to meet the anticipated demand.

“Where people are moved from Stradbally in due course to more sustainable accommodation, they may be asked to attend the Citywest Transit Hub in the first instance to be allocated accommodation across the available accommodation portfolio,” the document noted.

The facility will be operated by Pastures New, a company officials said had experience in large scale event development, commercial hospitality and human welfare supports to asylum communities in direct provision settings.

The State is now providing more than 69,573 Ukrainians with accommodation since Russia invaded the country in 2021, and the number continues to increase. However, that number jumps to more than 92,700 when international protection applicants, or asylum seekers, are taken into account.

“Given the scale and urgency of the operation to source accommodation for unplanned new arrivals, manage and process them appropriately, and transfer and settle them into their new homes and communities, there has been a requirement to act at pace, with developments often happening at very short notice,” the circular noted.

Given concerns over the level and nature of community protest in recent months, the Department of Equality is attempting to improve how it communicates such developments.

“Our aim is to enhance communications and engagement and give communities more access to information and updates on what is happening in their community,” it said.

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