play our part Taoiseach says Ireland could be required to take in over 20,000 Ukrainian refugees
“I’m not sure that people have fully grasped the enormity of what is happening”
Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said that Ireland could be required to take in well over 20,000 Ukrainian refugees.
It comes as over 863,000 people have fled the country following Russia’s invasion.
Addressing the media, Martin said it’s possible Ireland could take in over 20,000 refugees but it’s very hard to be definitive.
“It’s moved very rapidly, we’re at I think about 863,000 refugees, according to the United Nations, have now left Ukraine. Half of those have gone to Poland and we will play our part.”
Secretary generals of government departments are set to meet today to start scenario planning, and working out how Ireland will respond.
“I think it would have to be a people of Ireland’s response as well as a government response but it will be very challenging,” the Taoiseach continued.
“This is the largest war in the continent of Europe since World War Two.”
“I’m not sure that people have fully grasped the enormity of what is happening, what potentially can happen and the repercussions for the continent of Europe.”
“There will be that migration impact, there will be an economic impact in terms of inflation,” he said.
“There's a meeting of agriculture ministers for example to work through the implications around food.”
“Ukraine and Russia are huge suppliers of food to the world and to Europe and all of that will work its way through into the general economic situation.”
“We've got to be ready for that as a country in terms of the more general consequences of migration being one and the need to be in a position to accommodate a lot of people should they wish to come to Ireland,” he continued.
“And also to help out our European colleagues who it would not be fair to them to have to deal with the entire burden of the migration that is expected.”
“People are fleeing Ukraine now at a rapid rate.”
When previously discussing how many refugees Ireland will take in he said the Government have not “set limits" and "will provide whatever supports we can".
"I've already had offers from people in the medical world and elsewhere to say 'look, we might be able to help you in certain areas'," he said.
"Many Ukrainian families are here and I think many families would take families in Ireland, so there will be a structured refugee programme."
On Tuesday, Cabinet signed off on €10m in aid for Ukraine and called on the UN to find "peaceful agreement" between Ukraine and Russia.
European Affairs Minister Thomas Byrne told RTÉ Radio One's Drivetime that, since visa waivers have been put in place for Ukrainian citizens, the number of refugees who can seek shelter here is limitless.
“We can't control numbers on that, if someone wants to claim asylum because they're being oppressed or because of a war, we have to consider each and every application," he said.
Ireland will continue to take in Ukrainian refugees after a scheme is finalised at European level later this week.
One Government source said "small numbers" of Ukrainians have been arriving into Ireland since the visa requirement was waived.
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