THE gym at Dunmanway swimming pool continues to be closed, as it may be used as an ‘emergency rest centre’ for Ukrainian refugees.
Cork County Council confirmed last week that the gym facility was to close with immediate effect, taking many users by surprise.
However, there has been criticism about the unsuitability of using a gym to house traumatised families, even if it is for a short period.
Local public reps earlier criticised the use of Clonakilty Community Hall as an emergency rest centre because many refugees spent three nights there before being housed in more suitable accommodation. Emergency rest centres are meant to be used for very short periods of 24-48 hours maximum.
A leaking roof, coupled with no private space, added to issues with the Clonakilty venue, despite the hard work of local agencies and volunteers who facilitated the setting-up of the centre. The centre is now closed and undergoing repairs.
A Council spokesperson told The Southern Star that that the gym area in Dunmanway Pool is being reserved in the event that it is required at short notice for refugees.
‘There are no imminent plans to house refugees there but we have to be able to utilise it at short notice at any stage, with little or no advance notice.’
The spokesperson added that the space was reserved following a request from the International Protection Accommodation Services (IPAS).
Cllr Declan Hurley (Ind) said the situation is evolving all the time and they had the gym closed in anticipation of a group coming over the Easter weekend but the pool is operating as normal.
Plans are also at an advanced stage to turn an accommodation block at Clonakilty Agricultural College at Darrara into a suitable centre for refugees. A Teagasc spokesperson confirmed preparations were underway. Locals have been organising the donation of clothes and other items in advance.
Meanwhile, a number of refugees placed in the emergency rest centre in Banteer in North Cork complained of a suspected ‘vomiting bug’, after several felt unwell on arrival. They were attended to by medics, including Dr Jason van der Velde of West Cork Rapid Response.