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The Ukrainian ambassador at a celebration of Ukrainian Independence Day in Ireland.
Refugee supports

Ukrainians will be able to appeal social welfare cuts, McGrath says

Michael McGrath said people in “exceptional circumstances” will have a way to appeal the cuts, such as mothers unable to work.

LAST UPDATE | 15 May

UKRAINIANS LIVING IN state accommodation will have the chance to appeal cuts that are to be brought into the social welfare payments they receive, Finance Minister Michael McGrath has said. 

Speaking on RTÉ Radio One, McGrath said that the cuts will be implemented with a 12 week lead in time in a “compassionate and humane way” and that people would be able to make a case for their welfare payments staying at the higher level through the “system” in “exceptional circumstances’. 

Roughly 27,000 people living in State provided accommodation are to see their social welfare payments cuts from €232 a week to €38.80, according to a memo at Cabinet.

New rules brought in March will also see newly arriving being accommodated in Designated Accommodation Centres for a maximum of 90 days. 

Both the Tánaiste Micheál Martin and McGrath have defended the cuts to Ukrainian supports this morning, with McGrath dismissing the notion that the announcement was made due to the upcoming local elections. 

Martin, speaking on Newstalk Breakfast this morning said that the “asylum seeking phenomenon” is continuing to put pressure on State resources. 

He said that the number of Ukrainians in the country has dropped from around 106,000 to 86,000, and that there is “fluidity” to the situation in Ukraine, where some refugees have opted to return. 

Martin further said that the “whole idea” of supports to Ukrainians is to give people the opportunity to find employment, and other accommodation after 90 days if they are a new arrival. 

McGrath this morning said that there has been an examination of these issues “for some time” regardless of what point of the election cycle we are in, and that it is “important that we are consistent” in supports offered to Ukrainians. 

He said that it shouldn’t be the case that there are different payment rates for people who left Ukraine pre and post March, when the rules changed. 

He said that Ireland’s generosity towards Ukrainian people have been “exemplary”, but added that “no one” expected the war to go on for so long when Russia began its invasion.

He said that the “in flow” of Ukrainians to Ireland has dramatically reduced to between 20-30 people a day, and that some people aren’t returning to Ukraine but rather moving to other countries where they have networks set up. 

When asked if the Government wants Ukrainians to “move on”, McGrath said no.

Speaking to reporters this afternoon, Integration Minister Roderic O’Gorman said the cuts to social welfare payments for Ukrainians is a “decision based on equality and on sustainability”. 

“Equality on the basis that it is equalising the treatment of Ukrainians who arrived after mid-March where a change was made for new Ukrainians seeking temporary protection here versus those who were here previously,” he said. 

O’Gorman said there are “significant number” of Ukrainians getting “significant state support”. 

“In a situation where a Ukrainian is getting full accommodation paid and full meals paid, it’s not equitable that they’re also getting the full range of social protection payments,” he said. 

“So, the decision was made to reduce those social protection payments.” 

O’Gorman said there is a “substantial number” of Ukrainians leaving state-provided accommodation, “some finding their own way here, some returning to Ukraine, some returning to Ukraine”. 

With reporting by Hayley Halpin

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