By Gráinne Ní Aodha, PA
Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said the UK government’s Rwanda scheme may have resulted in an increase in international protection applicants in the Republic.
Mr Martin made the comments after it emerged on Wednesday night that Ireland had a “severe shortage” of State accommodation for Ukrainian refugees.
Speaking from Government Buildings on Thursday, Mr Martin said that of those at the reception centre for Ukrainians at Citywest in Dublin, 70 per cent are now international protection applicants.
“We will be analysing this, but something has happened in the last two to three months in terms of the surge within international protection applicants, something has clearly happened,” the Taoiseach said.
“Anecdotally or intuitively, one can see, and maybe sense that that policy announcement, which I thought was a wrong policy announcement by the UK, a shocking sort of initiative in my view, to be doing some agreement with Rwanda, clearly may have motivated people utilising the Common Travel Area to come into the Republic – yes, I think it is one of a number of factors.”
In April the UK home secretary Priti Patel signed what she branded a “world-first” agreement to send migrants deemed to have arrived in the UK illegally to Rwanda.
The first deportation flight – due to take off in June – was grounded amid legal challenges.
The Taoiseach made the comments as he and the Minister for Housing, Darragh O’Brien, announced a progress update on the Housing for All plan.
Mr O’Brien said “real progress” had been made, “despite significant headwinds”.
“Commencements are up, permissions are up, completions are up, and thankfully people are now drawing down more mortgages than they have in over a decade. First-time buyers are at their highest level since 2007.”
Speaking after announcement of a €50 million Croí Cónaithe (Towns) Fund, which aims to bring vacant and underused buildings in towns and villages back into use, Mr O’Brien said of the Croí Cónaithe (Cities) Scheme: “It’s a targeted support that goes to homeowners by reducing the purchasing price of an apartment. It will directly ensure that over 5000 new apartments will be built for owner-occupiers.
“I’m very glad to say, as the Taoiseach alluded to, that there has been substantial interest from the sector in this scheme, and it has the potential to bring fresh life into our cities over the coming years.”