Varadkar says the government was blindsided with the 100,000 Ukrainians who’ve arrived here – – Our News, Your Views

Varadkar says the government was blindsided with the 100,000 Ukrainians who’ve arrived here

Prime Minister Leo Varadkar has denied that Integration Minister Roderick O’Gorman surprised his cabinet colleagues by proposing to limit state housing for people fleeing the war in Ukraine, reports RTE.

Speaking to reporters in Brussels, he said: “That’s not the case. And in fairness, I think the Tánaiste said that’s not the case. This is a row that is being exaggerated,” reports RTE.

It has been described as an “robust” discussion within the government over possible changes to state-provided housing for people arriving here from Ukraine.

This included the proposal that new arrivals spend 90 days in the dormitory, after which they would have to find a place to live. This means that children in these institutions can receive education on-site, but cannot go to school.

This is said to have caused serious concern among senior Cabinet officials, including the Tánaiste.

“Minister Gorman has had proposals for quite some time and they’ve been discussed at leaders level, discussed at cabinet level as well, and he asked for permission to raise something at the meeting, which I gave him,” Mr Varadkar said, reports RTE.

Ireland offered both housing and unspecified social benefits to Ukrainian refugees, which are not EU rules, he said.

“For example, our cost of living is higher than other countries, and other countries pay different welfare rates depending on whether or not refugees are accommodated,” he said.

“We’ve welcomed nearly 100,000, Ukrainians to Ireland. I’m really proud that we’ve done that, as a country, to provide accommodation, food, shelter, health care, education, jobs, income. We are a country that is full of compassion but we unfortunately have limited capacity, particularly when it comes to accommodation,” he said reports RTE.

Earlier, Tánaiste Michael Martin said reports of infighting between the government over housing Ukrainian citizens were “a bit exaggerated”.

In a speech at the 2023 Climate Conference at Trinity College Martin, Martin said these issues were being discussed informally at Cabinet and Cabinet subcommittee levels and between ministers.

“So, I think it’s a bit exaggerated to say there was a row. I think there have been many challenging issues that have come before us,” he said, reports RTE.

He added: “Ireland has played its part admirably; we shouldn’t lose sight of that. Obviously, as the war goes on, we have to calibrate our response. Reflect on it. That’s all very fair. But I’m always conscious fundamentally we can’t let [Russian President Vladimir] Putin win this war either,” reports RTE.

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