The phenomenal effort of a Tipperary community who provided accommodation for 55 Ukrainian refugees in a refurbished convent building should serve as a best practice model of what can be done to assist in the humanitarian effort, according to Fine Gael Senator Garret Ahearn.
Senator Ahearn praised volunteers from Fethard who have responded to the urgent need for accommodation by getting the convent building ready and making it fit for purpose for families to take up residency this month.
Senator Garret Ahearn said: “The hard work of the people of Fethard is evident here today as the community welcomes people from Ukraine who have fled unthinkable circumstances.
“The swift reaction from the community to make the convent fit for purpose in such a short timeframe is a testament to the community spirit and humanitarian instincts of everyone involved.
“The convent building underwent a fast-tracked modification project. The accommodation was then inspected and approved by the Irish Red Cross and will be run by the Fethard Day Care Centre Committee, who will continue to use part of the site for their daily community activities. The revamped building was formally opened today after welcoming its first guests earlier this week.
“The people of Ukraine have lost their livelihoods and homes, but most importantly, lost or left family in their country as a result of Putin’s horrific war. They deserve our compassion and support, and the response of Irish people, including those in Tipperary, has been phenomenal.
“Those who have already arrived include a party of four women and two children who are relatives of Oleg and Maryna Gavrylenko, a couple who have been working and living in Tipperary for several years.
“The group, which included 9-year-old Alina and 4-year-old Damir, travelled from Kyiv and South Ukraine to Poland and then by air to Ireland.
“The refurbishment project was helped by an incredible response from the community, with local businesses and contractors rallying together to provide labour and materials at no cost, along with members of the local community who personally donated items. Staff at Coolmore Stud also provided financial support for the project and helped with project management.
“It is also a welcome development that community Response Forums have now been established in every local authority area to coordinate local responses to the Ukraine crisis.
“These forums worked well during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic response and they can now assist in the effort to help people arriving from Ukraine in accessing supports and other services.
“I believe other communities could show the same initiative as Fethard Day Care Centre Committee by making disused or vacant premises fit for purpose to help those fleeing the war in Ukraine,” Senator Ahearn concluded.