March 6, 2024
Minister for Social Protection must urgently agree and communicate plan for when Temporary Protection Directive ends next March – Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Social Protection, Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD, has welcomed that the government appears to have finally woken up to the fact that Ukrainians in state accommodation need clarity on what social welfare rates they will be entitled to when the Temporary Protection Directive comes to an end in March 2025.

Deputy Ó Laoghaire added that it was unfair on Ukrainians that this issue had yet to be resolved, and urged the government to move quickly to bring clarity to the situation.

Teachta Ó Laoghaire said:

“I welcome that Minister Heather Humphreys appears to have finally recognised what Sinn Féin has been saying for some time – that it is clear that the current payment of the full rates of social welfare to Ukrainians already here is simply unsustainable.

“Sinn Féin has been flagging for months now that the Temporary Protection Directive was coming to a conclusion in March 2025. That is now just 12 months away.

“When the directive comes to an end, we expect that Ukrainians who do not get 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.

“It is unfair that the government has failed to outline a plan for those people. The least they deserve is clarity, and it does nothing for confidence in the system to keep kicking the can down the road as the Minister has been doing up until now.

“Sinn Féin believes there is a need for a tapering-off of the payments. Reducing payments gradually will be key to avoiding any cliff-edges.

“It is Sinn Féin’s view that between now and next March, the Government should be gradually seeking to taper-off the payments received by beneficiaries of the Temporary Protection Directive.

“It is a two-tier system in terms of those newly arriving from Ukraine, but also compared to people fleeing war and conflict from other countries.

“We also recognise that there is a need to review the international protection payments in terms of adequacy.

“Concerns have been raised regarding that, and we believe that payments to people seeking international protection should happen outside the social welfare system, and be a part of the international protection system.

“The government must also address the issue of the difference between people in designated accommodation and those outside. It creates a distortion in the market where people will be much better-off if they leave state-provided accommodation and compete for private rental accommodation. This would add further fuel to a private rented market already completely dysfunctional and in crisis.

“I regret that the government failed to support our amendments to the Social Welfare Miscellaneous Provisions Bill that would have addressed this issue.

“I do, however, welcome that the government has finally understood the point Sinn Féin has been making for months now.

“It serves absolutely no one to continually put these decisions on the long finger. It is clear that the fairest outcome is the tapering-off of payments, but there must be a sense of urgency in government for this to be agreed and communicated.”

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