The Leader of the Rural Independent Group, Deputy Mattie McGrath stated:
“We have almost the combined populations of counties Monaghan and Offaly languishing on some form of a housing waiting list for years (122,000). We have record numbers of children and adults in an almost permanent state of homelessness (10,000). We have 7,400 people in direct provision, the abolition of which has now been pushed out beyond 2024 due to increasing numbers of arrivals and non-existent accommodation capacity. Yet, despite this, the newfound priority for Government is not to change course, but to double down on the promotion of a policy that supports unlimited immigration inflow.”
“We are told, through Public Expenditure Minister, Michael McGrath, that at the very least this is going to cost the Irish State “hundreds of millions of euros,” which is a gross underestimate of the real costs. Indeed, we know from media leaks that one estimated figure given to Government Ministers, indicated for every 1,000 Ukrainian refugees who are accommodated in a hotel, it will cost €33 million every year.”
“The health, social protection, and education costs alone will run to hundreds of millions, with a reported overall allocation exceeding €3 billion for 2023. This is almost equivalent to our entire Transport budget. Yet, we have had zero debate on the costs or implications to the taxpayer who is ultimately forced to foot the bill.”
“Does anyone seriously think that we can go on to accommodate and provide decent services if the number of those fleeing Ukraine and arriving here rises to 100,000? This of course is in addition to the record numbers of those who are making Ireland their preferred destination of choice for international protection.”
“Surely, the matter should be discussed calmly and rationally, given the foreseeable consequences that are coming down the tracks. For example, the policy of forcing those who arrive at our borders into hotel accommodation -can only result in the replication of the failed direct provision system.”
“We simply do not have houses, nor the skills capacity to build and provide accommodation at the scale required. Nor indeed does Government seem to have considered the impact of this approach on one of the most crucial fundamentals of our economy; namely the tourism sector and the tens of thousands of jobs that depend on it. Buying up vast swathes of hotel capacity is already yielding profoundly negative economic impacts.”
“We cannot respond to one crisis by creating another crisis here at home. What we are calling for is a mature, politically responsible debate on a policy that is going to determine the shape and nature of our society for generations to come. This happens all the time with respect to post-legislative scrutiny. Why then is it being avoided on the issue of immigration.”
“The Irish political establishment can no longer deny citizens the right to discuss these issues. However, we need to have open, honest, and transparent conversations. We cannot solve society’s problems without this kind of approach.”
“Unedifying attacks, in the Dail last week, by the Housing Minister on my colleague Deputy Nolan, are inexcusable in a modern democracy. Trying to smear or bully people who, in good faith, raise pertinent public policy issues is political arrogance of the highest order and it must be called out.”
“If we believe that Ireland can do better, then we cannot be bullied into silence by a loudly manipulative minority of political elites.”
“That is why we need a national debate on all of these issues because concealing the truth is never the correct path.”
“We must fully acknowledge and accept that these are real problems demanding real solutions. Furthermore, we can develop such solutions through dialogue, while chartering a path that allows public input through our national parliament and media outlets,” concluded Deputy McGrath.
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