Dáil debates

Thursday, 10 March 2022

Saincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Debate

Ukrainian War

3:10 pm

Photo of Martin HeydonMartin Heydon (Kildare South, Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

I thank Deputy McHugh for raising an issue that is foremost in all of our minds across the Government right now. I know Deputy Cannon was working with the Deputy on it earlier in the week. I assure the Deputy and the House that along with officials in all Departments, including the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, on behalf of which I am participating in this Topical Issue debate, I share the Deputy’s concern. We are all working on it. We are monitoring the situation very closely. All Departments, particularly the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, which is quite a mouthful of a departmental name, are responding quickly and effectively in the event that Ukrainian nationals come to Ireland seeking international protection. We know they are doing so, and they have begun to do so already. They will do so in much greater numbers into the future.

The Department is working closely with key stakeholders, the European Commission, other EU agencies and other member states to be prepared for a sudden increase in individuals seeking international protection in the EU. The Department is ready to assist if the EU develops a more co-ordinated approach to supporting nationals from Ukraine. Deputy McHugh rightly highlighted that this is an evolving situation and one to which we are responding in real time. We will continue to do so as the picture becomes clearer about what is required in Ireland’s role in supporting people who need it. We are liaising with the Cabinet and with EU colleagues to ensure there is an effective humanitarian response, as well as a whole-of-government approach.

I can confirm that accommodation will initially be made available by the International Protection Accommodation Service, IPAS, within the Department, to those Ukrainian nationals who seek international protection in Ireland and require it. IPAS is providing accommodation to Ukrainian refugees arriving in Ireland. It is scaling up operations as the number of arrivals increases. Some 955 Ukraine nationals to date have sought IPAS accommodation. We are working across the Government to source accommodation from as many sources as possible. Officials are actively working to procure accommodation and supports for Ukrainian arrivals to Ireland through hotel accommodation in the first instance, as well as various accommodation solutions, including the use of modular housing on State-owned land.

We appreciate that many people may wish to make offers of accommodation to support people who are seeking temporary protection in Ireland. The Government is working with the Red Cross in this regard on the logistics. They have put in place a national pledge, the website of which has been launched and is available online at registerofpledges.redcross.ie. There has already been a remarkable response from the public, as the Deputy is aware. Over 10,000 pledges have already been received, showing the Irish céad míle fáilte hospitality, the sense of charity and the sense of outrage that our citizens share at what is happening to Ukrainian people right now. We all want to play our part to help.

As the Deputy will be aware, Ukrainian nationals arriving in Ireland at this time are being granted - if they wish to avail of it - temporary protection for at least one year. This means that Ukrainian nationals who are fleeing the conflict will be allowed to work. They will be given access to health services, accommodation, education for children and other social supports. Details of the new measures have been published on the Department of Justice’s Irish immigration website,irishimmigration.ie. Our colleagues, including the Ministers, Deputies McEntee and Humphreys, are all working in conjunction on the supports in that area. Last night, the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth published a frequently asked questions document on its website to help people with any questions they may have. More information on supports and services has been published on gov.ie.

Departments are extremely busy working with colleagues across the Government to assist the humanitarian efforts regarding Ukraine. As this situation, which is unprecedented in our lifetimes, unfolds, our team's primary focus remains on critical operational matters as the situation evolves. IPAS staff, along with staff from Departments of Justice and Social Protection, are at the receiving area in Dublin Airport to provide PPS numbers as Ukrainian nationals arrive. The Department of Social Protection will also provide an income support through the supplementary welfare allowance scheme. This is a weekly social welfare payment. It is also paid for adult and child dependants. Details of this are available on the Department website. I can go into further detail in a supplementary response.


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