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generosity 500 Ukrainian refugees staying in Irish hotels as 'hundreds' of families open doors

The Government today launched the ‘pledge portal’ where people and businesses will be able to register whatever supports they can offer

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A Polish armed forces member waves to children who arrived in a Ukrainian train from Lviv that is transporting hundreds of people fleeing from the Russian invasion of Ukraine, at the station in Przemysl, Poland. Picture: Reuters

A Polish armed forces member waves to children who arrived in a Ukrainian train from Lviv that is transporting hundreds of people fleeing from the Russian invasion of Ukraine, at the station in Przemysl, Poland. Picture: Reuters

A Polish armed forces member waves to children who arrived in a Ukrainian train from Lviv that is transporting hundreds of people fleeing from the Russian invasion of Ukraine, at the station in Przemysl, Poland. Picture: Reuters

There are currently 500 Ukrainian refugees in hotels in Ireland as “hundreds” of Irish families have opened the doors to taking in people fleeing war.

Minister for children and equality Roderic O’Gorman told the Sunday World that people have offered spare bedrooms in their houses and vacant homes to house refugees.

“About 500 people have been provided with hotel accommodation since February 26,” he said.

“Certainly I know hundreds of [offers] have been many already to TDs and senators and NGOs as well.

“Some people have offered rooms, some people have offered vacant properties or second homes, some people have offered maybe bigger accommodation that they have,” he said.

The Government today launched the ‘pledge portal’ in conjunction with the Red Cross where people and businesses will be able to register whatever supports they can offer for incoming refugees.

Red Cross and Government officials will then make contact with those who have offered to help and “in the weeks and months ahead” take up on the offers.

“There has been a real outpouring of generosity from Irish people and that’s something that we really appreciate and are looking to make use of that through the pledge portal,” said Minister O’Gorman.

He said that “nothing has been ruled out” as Government officials are examining building modular housing on State land and using army barracks as possible solutions in housing refugees.

However, he said that Ukrainian refugees will not have to go into direct provision as they will be able to enter the country without a visa and be treated like EU citizens with the right to work or study.

“They have status under the EU directive that was invoked last Thursday,” he added.

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Minister O’Gorman said that Ireland is usually allocated 2pc of refugees entering the EU amid speculation that figures could be as high as 100,000.

“1.5m people have already fled the country and that’s only going to increase.”

It comes as the EU is looking at easing tough state aid rules to allow governments help companies hit by spiralling energy prices vastly worsened by war in Ukraine.

The issue is set to be discussed at a two-day EU leaders’ summit in Paris this week to be attended by Taoiseach Micheál Martin. The informal meeting, beginning on Thursday, was to have framed new flexible debt and deficit rules to help stimulate a post-Covid economic revival.

But the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine has completely overtaken that agenda for a meeting to be hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron. Now the talks will focus on moves to further tighten sanctions against Vladimir Putin’s regime in Moscow and coordinate a response to a growing humanitarian refugee crisis.

But all EU governments are under increasing pressure to talk about plans to shore up their economies against the fallout of the war. Brussels diplomats yesterday said the priority must be to protect jobs and livelihoods by avoiding certain companies being driven out of business.

The proposals include a loosening EU state aid rules with officials in early discussions on measures similar to those during the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic, sources confirmed for the Irish Independent.

Brussels officials point out that existing EU rules allow member states compensate for losses incurred in “exceptional circumstances” and Europe’s first major war since 1945 counts as part of this.

It will fall to EU Competition Commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, to lead talks on potential rule changes to the rules. But a key guideline will be to avoid ceding any unfair competitive advantage within a sector or between member states while longer-term potential effects of change must also be assessed.

The EU policy-guiding Commission will also this week unveil plans aimed reducing dependence on Russian energy. This is expected to see the EU aiming to more than double the amount of gas in storage by next winter.

Such a move has the potential to avoid a wider crisis next winter and a more stable energy market across the 27 EU member states would help Ireland indirectly. But most Irish gas comes from the Corrib field and via the UK.

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