Micky Kelly doing his bit to help Ukrainian refugees settle in north west
Big-hearted Greysteel man Micky Kelly has urged anyone who has unused accommodation to consider making it available to refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine.
Mr. Kelly, who travelled to the Lviv Oblast in April to deliver food and other essentials to those displaced by the war, was speaking as the Irish Government estimated 58,000 people from Ukraine and 12,500 from other countries seeking protection have arrived in the 26 counties this year.
Micky has been working with Grace Kennedy, a volunteer from Galway, whose ‘The Journey to Ireland’ initiative has already helped thousands of refugees re-settle including many on both sides of the border in the north west.
“In Limavady there are three families that are settled, another in Craigavon, two in Gleneely, two in Newtowncunningham, one in Raphoe, two in Omagh and one in Sligo.
"These are families that I personally have been giving a hand, not only on their journey, but with all the clerical work that's involved when you start to settle,” he told the ‘Journal’.
Last Thursday Micky gave one family a lift from Inishowen into Letterkenny to deal with paper work. He is currently helping one woman get a home organised for her mother and son from Odessa.
"She has an unfurnished apartment, so I've a table, chairs, TV, toaster, kettle, hoover, curtains, cups, pans, cutlery to take to Omagh,” Micky explained.
Micky regularly travels to Dublin Airport to transport families around the country.
“Honestly, there's a full time job in what we need to be doing to help these people get settled, especially in Donegal – it's such a massive county. However, the gratitude you get is heart-melting,” adds Micky.
He was speaking as the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications Eamon Ryan acknowledged both the generosity of the Irish people and the challenge the government faces in accommodating refugees.
“I think the people of this country have shown remarkable strength of character and lived up to the Bible story, that I often think of, of the Samaritan not passing, but providing shelter and support for those who are in real, most dramatic need.
"The people of our country have done that, in Kerry, Donegal, Clare and right the way around the country...There is something like 58,000 people from Ukraine and 12,500 from international protection. That is way beyond - it is like a full Aviva Stadium has arrived.
"We have had to house people. That is at a really critical point. No one should underestimate the scale of the challenge and the difficult decisions we will have to make now to continue that approach, which is the right approach I think we all agree. But it is going to be challenging,” he said.
Micky encouraged anyone with spare housing to consider making it available and asked people to support Ms. Kennedy’s - The Journey to Ireland GoFundMe page.
“She has been the anchor for all of this,” said Micky. “She is currently in Ukraine helping with transport, helping families and even animals. She has helped almost 5000 families get to Ireland and find a home or living with a host.
“I am part of that team that helps out with transport, immigration and clerical when they get settled, more so when they get homed up here in the northwest,” Micky adds.