The Government is to explore paying social welfare to Ukrainians as a way of encouraging them to return home when the temporary protection directive ends.
According to the Irish Examiner, a paper by the Department of Justice put forward at the Cabinet committee on Ukraine outlined a number of policies for consideration by EU states.
Protection has been given to Ukrainians until March 2024, but there may be a further extension of temporary protection until March 2025.
Another option to be examined by the Government is whether to offer residency to some Ukrainians including those in employment or education.
The EU Commission has said it will engage in discussions with all members on how best to exit temporary protection, and it is understood the Department of Justice believes it should wait for further input from the commission before deciding the most appropriate response.
A recent survey carried out by Ukrainian Action in Ireland found that among beneficiaries of temporary protection in Ireland, 41 per cent have decided to stay permanently in Ireland, 32 per cent are unsure of their plans, and 24 per cent intend to return to Ukraine as soon as they can.
EU countries will have to either support Ukrainians to remain in the EU post temporary protection or support Ukrainians to return home and rebuild Ukraine or “possibly some blend of both approaches”.
The paper outlines a number of policy options to be explored by countries who are accommodating Ukrainians.
One option includes how to “incentivise voluntary returns” including the continued provision of supports for a time-bound period to provide security to those returning.
Ukrainians that have arrived in Ireland can avail of jobseekers’ allowance if aged under 66, and those older receive a supplementary welfare allowance.
They can also avail of child benefit and a number of other financial supports depending on their circumstances.
Another option is whether some Ukrainians could be granted residency, including those in employment or education and to those who cannot travel back to Ukraine due to health or humanitarian reasons.