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pledge portal More than 20,000 Irish people offer up accommodation for fleeing Ukrainians

Micheál Martin said that more than 5,500 people have already come to Ireland from Ukraine and he himself is considering taking in refugees

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Viktor from Ukraine greets his family after they arrived on the train from Lviv in western Ukraine across the border to Przemysl, Poland. Photo: Mark Condren

Viktor from Ukraine greets his family after they arrived on the train from Lviv in western Ukraine across the border to Przemysl, Poland. Photo: Mark Condren

Viktor from Ukraine greets his family after they arrived on the train from Lviv in western Ukraine across the border to Przemysl, Poland. Photo: Mark Condren

More than 20,000 offers to provide accommodation to Ukrainian refugees have been made, the Sunday World understands.

There have been over 15,000 offers made through the Government’s pledge portal which includes spare rooms and vacant second homes.

However, a further 5,000 housing offers have been made through other non-governmental organisations (NGOs), bringing the total to over 20,000 offers.

The Red Cross will begin contacting “small numbers” of people who have made some of the 15,000 pledges this week to start the process of housing incoming refugees.

Government officials will also be in place at Shannon Airport to assist Ukrainians on their arrival in Ireland.

A ‘one-stop-shop’ centre is already in place at Dublin Airport, where officials from the departments of Justice and Social Protection provide people with PPS numbers and direct them towards accommodation.

It comes as Taoiseach Micheál Martin said that more than 5,500 people have already come to Ireland from Ukraine and he himself is considering taking in refugees.

Mr Martin said everyone has to play their part and he and his family will discuss the matter.

The Fianna Fáil leader owns three residential properties, including his family home and two holiday homes, one of which he jointly owns as part of an inheritance. He also stays in a Dublin apartment which is owned by his wife.

Speaking to reporters in London yesterday morning, Mr Martin said: “I think we will all play our part in that.

"I think these are personal decisions that every family has to take and we will respond in relation to that, as a family we will discuss that.

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"We’re obviously reflecting on this, like everybody else,” he added.

Outside of Mr Martin, Green Party leader Eamon Ryan and Justice Minister Helen McEntee are the only Cabinet members to have publicly said they are willing to consider housing refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine.

Mr Martin also said the €4bn contingency fund for dealing with the Covid-19 response could be used to pay for the State’s response to help refugees, with estimates suggesting up to 100,000 may come to Ireland.

Mr Martin said there will be an “undoubted increase” in public spending to accommodate the refugees, with over 5,500 having already arrived in Ireland in the last fortnight.

“That's a contingency fund that had been provided in the Budget for Covid which hasn't been spent,” Mr Martin told journalists.

“Some of it has, but not all of it has and that may be available for us to work on the undoubted increase in expenditure that will occur in areas like education, in areas like health and across the board.

"That's something both the Minister for Finance and the Minister for Public Expenditure are examining.”

As of late January around €500m of the €4bn fund had been spent.

However, with all Covid-19 restrictions now phased out, and State support schemes being wound up in the coming weeks, the Taoiseach’s remarks indicate ministers will seek to reallocate funds.

Mr Martin said security checks are not being carried out on arriving refugees, however security personnel are “monitoring” the situation at airports.

“Humanitarian response trumps everything,” he said. “We do know that that can be exploited by bad actors.”

He said Ireland’s “primary impulse” is to help people who are fleeing war.

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