Kerry hotels and hostels to become havens for fleeing Ukrainian refugees

Two hotels and a hostel in Kerry are closing and have reached an agreement with the Department for Children to accommodate refugees from Ukraine.

The 72-bed Innisfallen Hotel in Fossa, Killarney, and a sister hostel, 3Lakes Hostel in the town of Killarney, are closing from March 21, staff said on Friday.

The agreement is to provide accommodation and three meals for six months, with options for extension, it is understood.

None of the approximately 20 staff who work full and part-time at the hotel will lose their jobs and it is likely that more staff will be needed, they were told.

The hotel had been closed for several months due to Covid-19 and reopened in February.

It is unclear how many refugees are expected at the hotel, or its sister hostel, which has 10-bed and four-bed dorms and family rooms. Staff were told to expect only women and children.

A large hotel elsewhere in the county also reportedly entered into an agreement to accommodate Ukrainian refugees and would be closed to guests.

Hoteliers in Killarney have also been approached by their representative organisation, the Irish Hotel Federation, and asked to provide one or more free rooms to a refugee family on a temporary basis.

Bernadette Randles, president of the IHF in Kerry, said the request for temporary accommodation was seen as a short-term solution for families, possibly spread across 10 or more hotels.

“Hotels are open to doing what we can,” she said.

The Children’s Department, which is in charge of the refugee accommodation programme, was asked for comment.

Meanwhile Dr Gary Stack, a GP in Killarney and medical director and founding member of SouthDoc, the out-of-hours service in the South West, said that although GPs are very scarce in the Kerry, he was sure they would make additional arrangements. requests.

He estimated that the arrival of 100,000 refugees was speculated to mean 40 more patients per GP nationwide.

“However, needs must. GPs will rise up to meet the humanitarian need,” he said.

The director of the Kerry Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre, which is also under unprecedented pressure, said he was “very aware” he could be called upon to respond to refugees.

The topic was discussed at a meeting on Monday between the Tralee International Resource Centre, the Kerry Rape and Sexual Abuse Center and the HSE, said Vera O’Leary, director of the Kerry Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre.

“It’s something we’re very aware of,” Ms O’Leary said.

Even when rape was not used as a weapon, prior trauma would be triggered by the trauma of having to uproot and leave the house, she said.

Covid-19 has put a huge demand on sexual abuse services in Tralee, with waiting lists of up to 10 weeks for counseling appointments.

The center, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this weekend, now schedules an unprecedented number of 70 appointments per week.

In the case of additional requests from refugees, funding for language support would be essential at the centre, Ms O’Leary said.

“We have always been quick to respond and we will do so again,” she added.

Linda G. Ibarra