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Ukraine crisis Ireland could be looking to take 100,000 Ukrainian refugees, minister says

Last night, Government sources described the 100,000 figure as “speculation”, but admitted to talk of “up to 80,000”.

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Refugees wait in a crowd for transportation after fleeing from the Ukraine and arriving at the border crossing in Medyka, Poland (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

Refugees wait in a crowd for transportation after fleeing from the Ukraine and arriving at the border crossing in Medyka, Poland (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

Refugees wait in a crowd for transportation after fleeing from the Ukraine and arriving at the border crossing in Medyka, Poland (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

Ireland could ultimately receive 100,000 Ukrainian refugees, some ministers believe.

Junior minister Anne Rabbitte spoke of this country getting 2pc of an estimated five million refugees that may ultimately flee Ukraine following the Russian invasion – equivalent to 100,000 people.

Last night, Government sources described the 100,000 figure as “speculation”, but admitted to talk of “up to 80,000”.

A senior figure said: “We are at the edge of Europe, and there are only 5,000-6,000 Ukrainians living here now — many in the meat industry in the midlands.

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Disability Minister Anne Rabbitte

Disability Minister Anne Rabbitte

Disability Minister Anne Rabbitte


“Other analysis says (the total number of refugees) could be less than 80,000.

“Whatever the numbers, ­Ireland will do its part.”

Official sources have said that around 1,500 Ukrainians have already reached Ireland in the week and a half since Vladimir Putin unleashed his invasion.

The size of that figure has surprised some, being more than the “middle hundreds” expected here by now.

Last night, a spokesman for Taoiseach Micheál Martin said: “The ultimate figure is not knowable at this point, as it depends on so many things.

“Ireland is very willing to accept Ukrainian refugees and we will do all possible.

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A woman cries during a religious service at the St Volodymyr’s Cathedral in Kyiv on Sunday (Vadim Ghirda/AP)

A woman cries during a religious service at the St Volodymyr’s Cathedral in Kyiv on Sunday (Vadim Ghirda/AP)

A woman cries during a religious service at the St Volodymyr’s Cathedral in Kyiv on Sunday (Vadim Ghirda/AP)


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“There will of course be discussions with our European partners on burden sharing.”

The first talks are likely at a special EU Council meeting in Versailles this week.

Meanwhile, Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue will hold talks tomorrow with farm organisations on food security.

Ireland produces enough food annually to feed 30 million people as things stand, according to officials.

It comes as sources said the Government would withstand further provocations from Russian Ambassador Yury Filatov after he claimed in two interviews that Ireland was leading western hysteria in the wake of the invasion, and that Russian children were being bullied in Irish schools.

“We want to keep our Moscow embassy open,” a senior source said, adding this could be vital in the days ahead.

The Government expects tit-for-tat retaliation for any steps taken.

Officially, any move on expelling lower-level diplomats will be taken only as part of a co-ordinated move across the EU, as the Taoiseach said on Friday.

The Cabinet will discuss all aspects of the crisis tomorrow, including Irish lethal and non-lethal aid to the Ukrainian government.

Ministers will also use their St Patrick’s Day trips abroad this month to emphasise the need for global solidarity with the Ukrainian people.

Disability Minister Ms Rabbitte said she had met World Health Organisation regional director Hans Kluge who “went as far as to say he could see 4.5 million to five million, or more, (Ukrainian refugees) crossing the border”.

Ireland would take 1.9pc of an EU arrivals total in line with past practice and our existing population, she indicated, which put at an upper level of 100,000 refugees.

An online portal is due to open within 48 hours allowing people to register offers of accommodation. But it is understood the State will also need to create places for the new arrivals to live.

“We are looking at finding accommodation for them,” Ms Rabbitte told the Irish Times

“That 2pc is likely to get very real, very quickly.”

A source said last night: “It does look like numbers will ramp up more in the coming days, in what is the biggest displacement since World War II.

“Things will be clearer as the days progress. The majority (of refugees) at this stage are staying with relatives, but more and more are seeking status under the international protection programme,” they added.

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