A specialised unit will shortly be put in place to meet refugees from Ukraine as they arrive at airports and ports in Ireland, Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth Roderic O’Gorman has said.
At present, officials from the Department of Justice are the point-of-contact at airports, he told RTÉ Radio’s Morning Ireland, adding they can arrange accommodation and initiate contact with the Department of Social Protection, which will then provide PPS numbers and other supports to enable access to the labour market.
On arrival, once a person presents themselves to the Department of Justice officials, they are issued with a letter stating they are in Ireland under the EU’s Temporary Protection order.
Mr O’Gorman acknowledged the portal through which Irish people can register their willingness to provide accommodation for refugees from Ukraine crashed last night, but confirmed was back up on Tuesday morning.
The Minister said he was asking Irish people to be patient as various Government departments come together to coordinate a response.
Initially, hotel accommodation was the preferred option for the short-term, he said. However, he said he recognises there is a need for a long-term response, adding his department is looking at a range of options.
There would be checks on all offers of sharing accommodation, he said, but did not say if this would include Garda vetting.
The main priority was to ensure all who arrived were safe in whatever accommodation they were placed, he said, and a full range of mechanisms will be put in place to enable this, he added.
When asked if he was aware of any official complaint by the British government to Ireland’s ‘open door’ policy for Ukrainian refugees, Mr O’Gorman said he was not aware of any direct contact and was reluctant to respond to anonymous reports covered in the UK media.
He added Ireland’s actions are part of a wider EU response recognising the humanitarian crisis.