Government will cover €2 billion cost of looking after Ukrainians – – Our News, Your Views

Government will cover €2 billion cost of looking after Ukrainians

Minister for Finance Michael McGrath has said, funding of €2 billion in the current year has been allocated to meet all of the expenses for looking after people arrived in Ireland from Ukraine.

He said he does not have figures on the total costs for people of other nationalities seeking international protection, which is a matter for the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Integration.

Housing was a large part of those costs along with social welfare payments, said Secretary McGrath.

Mechanisms are in place to fully recover these costs, he said.

In terms of the type of accommodation provided, Mr McGrath said the government still prefers to use vacant building stock, reports RTE.

In this regard, some progress has been made in the last few days, he said.

Matters on this issue are at an early stage, he said.

The government is working together on the issue of housing applicants for international protection, said Mr McGrath.

He said: “Minister O’Gorman had an “incredibly difficult job … but he has the full support of all of his colleagues in Government. When you look at the number of people we are accommodating, its about 85,000 people between Ukrainians and people in the International Protection system and many multiples of where it was just over a year ago,” reports RTE.

Thousands of Ukrainians are already working and contributing to Irish society, he said, and he expects some of them to stay in the country.

A summer budget statement is expected in early July.

Secretary McGrath says he will definitely not be bullied over the budget.

“Anybody who knows me, knows I can be as tough as anybody else when it comes to negotiations. I will always be conciliatory and polite, but I can be as firm as I need to be,” he told reporters in Ashtown in Dublin 15 at the launch of a new housing development there, reports RTE.

Regarding the budget and income tax matters, Secretary McGrath said he expected a lively debate between the three coalition parties.

He said it is important that the process is respected and that the parameters are set in the coming weeks in the summer economic statement before the summer break.

On the issue of income tax, he said there is a government participation program that has been awarded several income tax breaks so far.

He said he was confident that further progress could be made in this regard.

Secretary McGrath said he wants to reduce the burden on low- to middle-income workers, which is important to completing the tax package.

He said there were many other demands and requests, including legitimate calls for more investment in childcare and for an increase in fixed income for pensioners, carers and people on disability benefits.

When asked about the reported problem of some new arrivals destroying their travel documents when they arrive in Ireland, Minister McGrath said his Fine Gael colleague and Justice Secretary Simon Harris were working to ensure a strict procedure.

He said it was important that, while Ireland was meeting its obligations to applicants for international protection, “any evidence of the wilful destruction of passports or other documentation that people may have had when they boarded the plane but then don’t seem to have when they disembark from the plane” was an issue that should be actively examined by authorities,” reports RTE.

When asked if there should be more Gardaí at airports, he said he would leave the operational details to the authorities.

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