'expect more' | 

Green Party Minister says Ireland must be ready to welcome refugees fleeing climate change

Almost 70,000 Ukrainian refugees were granted protection in Ireland last year along with a record 13,319 people who applied for asylum

Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth Roderic O’Gorman. Photo: Julien Behal

Maeve McTaggartSunday World

Ireland must be prepared to welcome refugees fleeing climate change, says Minister Roderic O’Gorman.

Almost 70,000 Ukrainian refugees were granted protection in Ireland last year along with a record 13,319 people who applied for asylum.

The Minister for Integration has now revealed that the influx of asylum seekers is not a temporary spike, but will become the norm.

“I think all of Europe is going to have to expect more migration, more inward migration,” he told the Irish Examiner.

"Parts of Europe have experienced very significant amounts in the last decade. By and large Ireland has been receiving relatively small amounts and I think it’s likely that that’s going to change.

"It is very real that habitable land is being rendered uninhabitable and that is going to have impacts across the world for the European Union and for Ireland."

The Minister said climate refugees “are fleeing a place that no longer exists, or at least may no longer be habitable for humans.”

He also added that the Government will be looking at expanding work visa to welcome increased numbers of “economic migrants” – people who move to seek a better standard of living.

“I think we know there are very significant demands in certain parts of the economy, certain parts of the labour market,” he told the Irish Examiner.

“There are shortages, and we will need people to come and work and take up those positions. I think we will certainly have to look at expanding work visas.”

The interview comes as the circumstances of many Ukrainian refugees seeking temporary accommodation in Ireland has been described as “harrowing” by president of the GAA.

The corporate boxes in Croke Park are now to be used as accommodation for the next fortnight, it was announced last week.

In a letter to constituent organisations, Labhrás MacCarthaigh said: “The accommodation is by no means salubrious – [it’s] sleeping bags and camp beds in our [corporate] boxes.”

He added: “It saddened me that on the Orthodox Christmas Day, the plight of these families is so harrowing.

“Nevertheless, I am heartened that, as an association, we were able to respond quickly and sympathetically to this humanitarian crisis.”

Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth Roderic O’Gorman said his department was “grateful for the support from the GAA”.


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