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08th Mar 2022

“Huge surge” in support for Ukrainians as refugees arrive in Ireland

2,200 Ukrainians have already arrived in Ireland.

The Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth Roderic O’Gorman has said that there has been a huge surge in Irish support for Ukrainian people coming here for safety.

Speaking on RTE’s Morning Ireland, he said that the Department of Foreign Affairs is in contact with around 50 Irish citizens who are still in Ukraine and is offering them consular support.

He said: “We’ve had about maybe 2,200 people, Ukrainian refugees, arrive in Ireland since the 26th of February and of those about two-thirds are being housed with family members.

“We are right now looking at sourcing hotel accommodation and we’ve significantly expanded our capacity of hotel accommodation for [the] short term.”

A portal crashed yesterday that allows for pledges of accommodation to Ukrainians fleeing the Russian invasion but O’Gorman has since confirmed it is back up and running.

He noted that the Government is looking at a wide range of accommodation options and “nothing is off the table” when it comes to this.

“Hotel accommodation is the short-term response, but we recognise that there is going to need to be a long-term response as well,” he added.

“So right now, my department is working in conjunction with all other government departments at looking at the range of long-term accommodation options that are open to us.”

Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan has revealed that Ukrainian refugees coming to Ireland will be shared with the UK as huge waves of support rise.

Responding to claims that the lifting of restrictions for refugees could pose a risk to the UK due to the Common Travel Area, Ryan said that the open border with Northern Ireland will not change.

Ryan said: “We have an open border with Northern Ireland, that is not going to change – be that for pandemic reasons or be that for refugee reasons.

“The only real way we can enhance security is with good sharing of information, real up-to-date immediate information.”

“We are not going to shut the border and the UK government will understand this in the same way as we understood it when it was coming the other way with the pandemic.

“The best way is not to shut a border but to ensure you share information. That gives confidence that the security issue can be addressed.”

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said that giving shelter and services for those fleeing the warzone will be an “enormous challenge, the scale of which we have never dealt with before”, adding that 2,200 Ukrainians have now arrived in Ireland.

“We will have to take steps to circumvent normal approaches to provide the level and scale of accommodation that will be required and also to match that with access in particular to childcare and education,” he said.