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Simon Harris Rolling News
workplace inspections

Taoiseach calls for 'consistency of approach' around payments and supports for Ukrainians

Simon Harris said Ukrainian refugees shouldn’t get a different level of support on the basis on when they arrived.

LAST UPDATE | 13 May

TAOISEACH SIMON HARRIS has called for a “consistency of approach” around payments and supports offered to Ukrainian refugees.

In March, the Government changed its offering for new arrivals, who are now paid a €38.80 subsistence allowance per week, and an additional €29.80 per child.

New Ukrainian arrivals also go to designated accommodation centres for up to 90 days and are provided with food, laundry and integration support during this time.

Previous to this, they received the current jobseekers’ rate of €232 per week – if staying in accommodation centres – and unlimited time in State accommodation.

However, the changes do not apply to those who arrived before the March deadline. 

Harris today called for a “consistency of approach” to people from Ukraine.

He said Ireland has done a “huge amount” for Ukraine and that he is proud of that, but that the level of support a person from Ukraine gets shouldn’t depend on what month they arrived.

Speaking on Newstalk, Harris said: “It shouldn’t be whether you came one month (ago) or not that you get a different level of support.”

Elsewhere, Green Party leader Eamon Ryan was asked by RTÉ if payments would be cut further.

He replied: “I expect that will apply to a wider category of people regardless of when they came to the country.

He added: “So I think there will be some variations and some changes.

“And we do that at the same time that we know we have to provide additional accommodation for those seeking international protection.

“We have to do both to try to manage this fairly.”

Meanwhile, Harris said more workplace inspections will be carried out under plans to clamp down on illegal work and illegal migration. 

He said he intends to make a number of changes to Ireland’s immigration policies in order to inject a “common sense” approach which he believes “has been lacking”.

Among these, Harris said, will be a fresh look at “welfare consistency” and the contribution that people who have asylum seeker status in Ireland should make to accommodation.

“Migration is a good thing. What is not a good thing is not having a consistent, coherent approach to it,” he said.

Harris made the comments during an interview on The Pat Kenny Show on Newstalk this morning. 

In recent months, migration has remained a dominating topic in Ireland as the Government fails to accommodate all those seeking asylum in the state. 

The latest figures from the Department of Integration show that there are 1,715 asylum seekers without accommodation in the state. 

Last week, approximately 100 tents belonging to asylum seekers were cleared from Dublin’s Grand Canal and railings were put up in their place to prevent further tents being pitched. 

When asked this morning if he is unhappy with voluntary organisations and charities continuing to provide homeless asylum seekers with tents, Harris said he is not and that these organisations are doing their best to provide humanitarian assistance.

“What I am frustrated about is the siloed system in relation to migration policy. I’m about 34 or 35 days as Taoiseach of this country and I’m absolutely determined that we get a grip of this.

“And what does a grip of this mean? It means that we actually have a system that people in this country understand and a system in this country that people who come here understand.

“That we have a coordinated response, that we don’t just everyday talk about accommodation and tents, but that we also talk about the social welfare system and how that interacts. We talked about accommodation costs and what’s a fair contribution somebody should make towards accommodation, when they have status.”

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Social Protection, Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire, said today that he believes social welfare payments for Ukrainians should be tapered off ahead of the end of the Temporary Protection Directive next March.

“People who have arrived here seeking protection from the Russian war in Ukraine deserve our protection, and to be supported, and the people of Ireland have responded remarkably,” he said.

“However, for some time now I have been making the point that failing to prepare for the future helps no one. The uncertainty is not acceptable. The government appears to have conceded the principle of this, but have done nothing.”

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