- 25 Oct 23
Described as among the most 'divisive, heated discussions' to take place since the coalition began, the Cabinet has clashed on the issue of providing accommodation for Ukrainian refugees for three months before having the refugees absorbed by the housing sector
In what has been one of the most contentious issues since the formation of the coalition government, concerns were raised over a new proposal for accommodating Ukrainians for 90 days before absorbing them into the private rental sector or offer a home scheme.
As reported in The Irish Times, Tániaste Mícheál Martin raised concerns about the proposal, arguing that the proposal was essentially moving the onus of housing the Ukrainian refugees to the Department of Housing. The Tánaiste also raised concerns over the impact this would have on homelessness services.
These concerns were reportedly echoed by Darragh O'Brien- the Minister for Housing.
Furthermore, Martin expressed concern for the impact this proposal would impact the education of children coming to Ireland.
However, other sources in the Government queried this, saying that under the temporary protection directive which allows Ukrainians rights within the EU, they don’t have entitlements to housing or homeless services through the Department of Housing.
Roderic O'Gorman, Minister for Childcare, Disability, Integration, and Youth is said to have "vented a lot of frustration" at the lack of progress on reform at a time when the system is coming under extreme pressure, warning that the current system could see people left on the streets.
Other officials have warned that Ireland's system is out of step with other EU countries.
Mr O'Gorman is reported to have said that 30% of people arriving here have previously registered elsewhere for temporary protection.
On Tuesday evening, the Department of Justice said this was an 'indicative figure' and would include people briefly registered in other European countries who then travelled here as there was no direct route available to them.
Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys, is to examine what reforms can be made to the package of welfare supports , with some at cabinet concerned that this could be a "pull factor" behind the increase of recent arrivals.
Some Ministers questioned why the issue was being discussed at cabinet without an agreed proposal for the cabinet to sign on.
Mr O'Gorman argued that the issue had been discussed at multiple cabinet subcommittees and twice been referred to the Coalition leaders pre Cabinet meeting, only not to proceed to Cabinet.
Government sources later added according to the Irish Times that plans to establish five or six major centres for Ukrainian refugees around the country and to gradually phase out the use of hotels had not been signed off by the Government.