TAKING in Ukrainian refugees could cost the State in excess of €1bn this year, according to Public Expenditure and Reform Minister Michael McGrath.
Mr McGrath said there was no way of predicting exactly how many Ukrainian refugees might come to Ireland, and he cautioned that there was no indication the war would end any time soon.
“It is possible that the costs associated with looking after people coming from Ukraine could exceed €1bn in the current year, when you take into account all of the different forms of support that we are providing as a country, so I don’t think anybody can accuse us of not stepping up to the mark,” Mr McGrath said.
“We have made the decision collectively throughout Europe that we are going to continue to receive people who are fleeing war in Ukraine, and we will continue to fulfil our responsibilities.”
Mc McGrath said the country is facing into a period of acute pressure and that the tented village at Gormanstown camp might have to be replicated elsewhere around the country.
“There will be pinch points and it is likely that we will have to bring onstream further solutions like the Gormanstown one, which are not ideal, they’re not at the standard that we would like, but we are seeing similar measures throughout Europe,
“Millions of people have had to leave their homeland of Ukraine because Vladimir Putin is dropping bombs on their country in a non-targeted manner.”
Mr McGrath said that the number of asylum seekers coming to Ireland from countries other than Ukraine is currently running at a rate of approximately five to six times that experienced at this time last year.
He said it would be “naïve” to think that Britain’s current plans to deport asylum seekers for processing in Rwanda was not playing a part in the increase in numbers of those seeking protection here.
Mr McGrath said there was a distinction to be made between those fleeing Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine and those from other countries seeking international protection in Ireland, saying those from countries other than Ukraine seeking international protection here deserved to have their cases heard, but those whose asylum applications were rejected would be deported.
This, he said, would be in line with a return to deportation procedures put on hold during the Covid-19 pandemic.