This is the second of a series of exposés on the effect of the establishment’s mass-asylum policy on the most vulnerable groups in Irish society. For part one about how the policy is affecting young people and students you can find it here.
The last few years have not been kind to Irish nursing homes, with a lack of funding, lack of workers, increasing costs due to inflation and the effects of lockdowns, on top of an increased demand due to an ageing population, the result is dire. These conditions have led to 48 nursing homes all around the country deregistering with HIQA and closing since 2018 with more currently in the process of closing.
But what is being done with these nursing homes when they close down? Through our own investigative research as well as through tip-offs from the general public, we can announce that many of these nursing homes are now being used to house Ukrainian refugees in some cases, and “Ukrainian” refugees in others. We will detail 4 of these cases in this article.
This situation has started to raise alarm bells with people around the country and there have been many news reports in local areas about what is happening. In response to some of these stories, the CEO of nursing homes Ireland Tadgh Daly assured people that “There’s no nursing home closing to become a centre for refugees. Nursing homes are closing because they are being forced to close”.
However, according to an article from WLRFM – which came out before the article where the above quote was taken – stated that: “nursing homes Ireland have told WLR that they know of at least one private operator who has de-registered their nursing home and has since accommodated those seeking refuge from the war in Ukraine –for which the government will pay them.”
Moreover, the Minister For Older People Mary Butler has confirmed that nursing homes are closing and housing Ukrainians as it is more lucrative due to more financing from the government saying that some nursing home providers are deciding to end their business as nursing home providers and “are looking at providing accommodation for Ukrainian refugees, which can be more lucrative”.
That is to say, some providers appear to be applying to the government to have their contracts changed from housing elderly people to housing Ukrainians or refugees of other backgrounds, and the government is dutifully complying and paying them more money to do so.
In response to these comments from Mary Butler, Tadgh Daly changed his tune slightly and conceded, that, yes, nursing homes were closing and then reopening to house refugees. But pointed out that it was the government’s fault saying: “It is disingenuous for the state to now insinuate closures were influenced by factors other than their nursing home not being viable due to failure by the state”.
We have a difficult situation here for vulnerable elderly Irish right before a terrible winter which will be replete with a possible energy shortage and potential blackouts. Many nursing homes were closing before the Ukrainian crisis even began due to a lack of funding or were unprofitable seemingly due to increasing demands and regulations from HIQA.
However, some that have been shuttered over the last number of months and years have since reopened, not as places to house the local elderly, but to house migrants seemingly on behalf of the government.
The first example of the replacement of elderly people with “refugees” that came to our attention was a nursing home in rural Limerick. In February, a local newspaper the ‘Limerick Live’ wrote an article regarding the potential closure of the nursing home.
However, an article from May by the same Limerick Live newspaper celebrated the “warm welcome” given by the town to “over 30 Ukrainians fleeing their war torn country.” These new migrants are now being housed in the former nursing home, as confirmed by the same Limerick Live article, as well as our own monitoring.
Another example of a similar scenario – of old people being removed from a nursing home in favour of refugees ostensibly from Ukraine – occurred in Ballyleague Roscommon in the Costello nursing home. Again, we have a local newspaper publishing the story, in this case, the Shannonside newspaper. Cited in the article, the reason for the closure of the home being that “the cost of providing a quality service has become far in excess of their income.”
The nursing home had just closed down earlier this year.
There is also a nursing home in rural Galway which closed recently, only to reopen and begin to house “refugees”, which we have confirmation of via our own monitoring of the home. Little else is known regarding the situation except that the nursing home had closed down earlier this year, as confirmed by our FOI request to HIQA
Finally, a nursing home in Wicklow, which also closed only very recently, has also become a “provision centre”. A video surfaced online recently of the nursing home which now boasts frosted windows which make it harder to see what’s happening inside and what is seeming its very own security guard to boot. According to our own monitoring of this particular nursing home, the frosted windows and “new residents” have only come about in the last month. The worker guarding the facility himself attested to our source the fact that asylum seekers were being lodged at the address now.
We see a pattern taking shape here: four nursing homes, in four different counties, all have closed down this year. Rather than letting the building go to waste, we have either County Councils or private investors converting the old nursing homes into new accommodation for Ukrainians in some instances, and non-Ukrainians in others.
In most situations of a nursing home closing, the given reason is simply a lack of funding. They don’t have the money to keep up with rules and regulations required of them to be a nursing home. So, we ask the question, at a time when the residents of East Wall are forced to protest against an office block becoming migrant housing, how is there no money for nursing homes in Ireland, leading to 48 nursing homes closing since 2018, but there seems to be the money for refugees to be housed here instead?
The government seemingly cannot provide enough funding for nursing homes, leading to many of them having to close down. However, this same state will not only seemingly make it financially viable to house migrants, but apparently financially profitable to house them. This again shows the disdain and hatred the Irish government has for its own citizens as it closes down nursing homes for the elderly right before winter. A winter that has been forecast to have us on the knife edge regarding energy and possible blackouts. And instead, will house Ukrainians and make it financially profitable for whoever the government contract goes to? One can only wonder who is receiving these “lucrative” government contracts.
The government, without any opposition from (and often support of) the other major parties, the civil service, and the media, are leaving nursing homes in a precarious financial situation, knowing full well that these sites will soon be used to house asylum seekers, many of whom are not even fleeing conflict. Even if they were, it would be hard to imagine the Irish public being content to uproot some of the most vulnerable people in the country in order to give their beds to foreign nationals.
This is the beginning of our investigation. In our next instalment, we will discuss the sheer scale of this phenomenon.
We also want to hear from people whose lives have been affected. Do you know of a nursing home that has closed to house asylum seekers, or anyone who has suffered from this situation? Contact us in confidence at email@example.com