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Ukrainian refugee family hosted by convicted paedophile

The BBC reported this week that a family of Ukrainian refugees had been hosted for a number of weeks by a convicted paedophile in County Armagh.

Following a report by the Sunday Independent newspaper, it has become clear that criminal record checks carried out on the refugee’s sponsor, did not flag a conviction for child sexual abuse. An external agency acting on behalf of Stormont’s Executive Office also carried out a second check and home visit prior to the arrival of the family. Additional checks in light of this, later confirmed the sponsor’s conviction, which deemed him unsuitable to sponsor Ukrainian refugees, according to the panel who oversees the checks.

The family had moved into a mobile home on the sponsor’s property by that stage, however the Executive Office and the other external agencies involved in the scheme were not aware of this.

Once the family had been informed of the panel’s decision, they were moved into emergency accommodation elsewhere.

The Executive Office explained that it is common for Ukrainian refugees who have applied to the Homes for Ukraine scheme to travel to Ireland whilst they await the confirmation of their UK visa; there have been a small number of cases therefore, where sponsors have been deemed unsuitable after their guests have already arrived.

The Executive Office added that: "We have taken a number of additional steps to help ensure those involved in the scheme are protected" including more effective procedures for reporting concerns arising from home visits, and the ability to intercept Ukrainians in the Republic of Ireland if their sponsors are found to be unsuitable, before they travel there.

The UK government has confirmed that “extensive security checks” are undertaken on the Homes for Ukraine scheme and that "to ensure a sponsor meets the requirements for approval, the Home Office will conduct standard security checks on all adults aged 18 and over who will be living in the same household as the guests, prior to issuing a visa."

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