May 2, 2024
Government indecision on social welfare payments for Ukrainian refugees is in no ones interest – Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Social Protection, Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD, has said the Minister for Social Protection must make a decision on the tapering of social welfare payments for those from Ukraine in preparing for the end of the Temporary Protection Directive.

He spoke as the Cabinet Sub Committee on Migration was meeting to discuss a variety of migration related issues.

Teachta Ó Laoghaire said:

“It is reported today that the Minister for Social Protection is still considering reducing social welfare payments for Ukrainians in the context of the temporary protection directive ending next March.

“Sinn Féin has been flagging this issue for several months. The Minister keeps mentioning this, but not giving any detail.

“Even last week, during a Dáil debate she said ‘I have already signalled that I do not think it is sustainable long-term that people would get their accommodation provided for and receive full social welfare payments.’

“But there has been no follow through. There seems to be an attitude that there is plenty of time. That isn’t the case. The temporary protection directive ends next March. There needs to be a roadmap.

“We need supports that are sustainable, and in line with other European countries. We have been making the case for several months that payments for those already here should be tapered down gradually in preparation for the end of the directive.

“At that stage, the most likely outcome is that those who do not obtain a work visa would be entitled to apply for international protection here, meaning that they would on the same rate as those in Direct Provision.

“If a decision is made at an earlier stage, then Ukranians here are in a better position to decide what is the best route for them to take if they want to stay in Ireland.

“Failing to prepare for the future helps no one. There needs to be a thoughtful discussion about the transition period between now and then.

“I would also make the point again that the 90-day limit on accommodation for recent arrivals is not realistic, and potentially risks forcing people to compete for private accommodation and could see some people end up homeless. That is not right.”

Teachta Ó Laoghaire also expressed concern at reports in the Irish Independent regarding the purchase or rent of homes for people seeking protection here, and stated that further clarity was needed here:

“The private rented sector is the area of housing under greatest pressure. It is a totally dysfunctional market, as we can see from the increases in the RTB report.

“Properties that are fit to be rented out in the private rented market, or indeed to be bought by local authorities, should not be part of the solution to the emergency accommodation shortfall. 

“If this relates to vacant or derelict buildings being brought back in to use, that may be a different matter, but the Minister needs to clarify, and in our view the focus needs to be on state provided accommodation rather than relying on private property being rented.

“Temporary accommodation for those seeking protection needs to be an entirely separate stream from the mainstream housing system.”

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