February 21, 2024
Minister for Social Protection’s failure to plan for end of Temporary Protection Directive alarming – Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Social Protection, Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD, has expressed concern that the Minister for Social Protection appears to have no plan for social welfare recipients from Ukraine when the Temporary Protection Directive ends in March of next year.

The Cork South Central TD was speaking during the course of questions to the Minister for Social Protection.

Teachta Ó Laoghaire said:

“The Minister cannot simply kick the can down the road on this. The changes to social welfare payments are only going to apply to people who arrive from here on, and who are also living in a specific type of accommodation.

“Others will continue to get the higher rate even if they leave the accommodation provided. We have expressed concerns that this could lead to people who arrive in the future seeking to find accommodation in the private rented sector adding to competition there.

“But the directive is coming to a conclusion in March 2024. For everyone who is on the full social welfare rate at the minute, the picture is totally unclear. The Minister keeps telling us that this is being discussed and that her officials will be able to respond.

“But it is clear there is no plan. As things stand, when the directive comes to a conclusion, it seems likely people from Ukraine who wish to remain here will be entitled to apply for a visa or international protection. If they apply for international protection, they will be entitled to the rate that people in Direct Provision receive.

“We absolutely recognise our international obligations and the need to provide protection to those fleeing conflict, and to provide support for them, within a system that is decent, and that is fair.

“But the Government has no plan for what is coming next. It serves no one to hope that it will be alright on the night. It is not fair to anyone to have a cliff edge, it does nothing for confidence in the system, and it is unfair to people from Ukraine to have a cliff edge from their current payments, to a sudden reduction next March.

“In our view, between now and next March, the Government should be gradually seeking to taper off the payments received by beneficiaries of the Temporary Protection Directive, those people who are already here, to have a gradual reduction instead of a sudden halt.

“Pointing to Europe is beside the point. It is the legislation the Government themselves passed that created the link. The directive cannot be extended, and the status of the people who are here seeking protection will change at that point, and therefore their entitlements. The Government should be planning and preparing for that, but it seems there is no plan.”

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