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Households that sign up to take in refugees ‘will be paid up to €400 a month’

Ukrainians arrive in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine after fleeing Mariupol. Photo:AP Photo/Leo Correa

Hugh O'Connell

Households could be paid up to €400 a month to accommodate Ukrainian refugees under proposals being considered by the Government, the Irish Independent can reveal.

The Department of Social Protection and the Revenue Commissioners have been asked to draw up plans to pay households who take in refugees, but the exact details of how much they will be paid and which households will be eligible are still being worked out by officials.

A formal government decision is expected within the next fortnight and possibly as early as next week. The amount could be up to €400 a month, senior government figures said.

The Department of Children and Equality will determine who is eligible for the payment and how much will be paid, while the Department of Social Protection will administer payments, one senior figure said last night.

The proposal would aim to cover the extra costs, such as increased utility bills, arising in households as a result of hosting refugees, but one senior source said it would also provide an incentive to households to take in people fleeing the war.

Under the plan, households that have already agreed to take in refugees would be able to apply for the payment.

However, government figures said last night the payment would also be aimed at incentivising more people to offer accommodation.

It comes after the Irish Red Cross confirmed more than half of the accommodation pledges made for Ukrainian refugees have fallen through.

Justice Minister Helen McEntee told the Irish Independent yesterday that she is rethinking offering a room in her home to a Ukrainian refugee.

Ms McEntee, who has a child less than a year old, said she is concerned that a refugee in her rural Co Meath home – where she previously offered a room – would be left there all day with no transport options. She added that it is “miles from anywhere”.

Between 150 and 200 people who have arrived in Ireland from Ukraine since the start of the war have already been placed in pledged accommodation, the Cabinet was told this week.

However, new arrivals are being forced into emergency accommodation in community centres, sports halls and other venues such as the Green Glens Arena in Millstreet, Co Cork, as hotel accommodation reaches capacity.

More than 1,200 are now being housed in “dormitory-style accommodation”, and there could be no accommodation at all for as many as 8,300 refugees by the end of next month, according to analysis compiled for the Cabinet this week.

Last night, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said he had asked Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe and Social Protection Minister Heather Humphreys to look at options to pay those who make properties available for refugees.

“It’s not a money issue [for people] right now, but that is being considered by the key departments,” Mr Martin said:

“In the first instance, what needs to happen is those who have pledged [accommodation], we need to get through that process perhaps more quickly – it’s more time-consuming on all involved.”

Asked if the Government would consider capping the number of arrivals, Mr Martin said that was not being looked at “right now”, but it would be “very challenging”.

“We’re not considering that at all, we’re looking at looking after people as they come into the country,” he said.

“But we’re consistently working at expanding our capacities and looking at it not just in the short-term but looking at the medium-term, at prospects and capacities as well.”

He said the Government is examining what can be constructed to accommodate refugees in the medium term, and also what buildings could be reconfigured to make them suitable for refugees.

This issue was being examined by a group of former local authority public servants working under the aegis of Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien.

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