Irish who host Ukrainian refugees will NOT see social benefits stopped

IRISH people who host Ukrainian refugees will NOT see their social benefits stopped.

Social Welfare Minister Heather Humphreys today confirmed that she will sign settlements to ensure that the social benefits of those who house Ukrainians in their homes will not be affected.

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Social Care Minister Heather Humphreys will confirm that social benefits will not be affected

It comes after elderly people raised concerns that their living alone allowance could be reduced if they were hosting refugees from Ukraine.

Speaking today, Minister Humphreys told RTE: “For example, a pensioner who got a loan allowance and also the fuel allowance. And so they take a Ukrainian home. It won’t affect their social benefits.

“It’s something that I know has been raised by a number of older people who are concerned that payments will be reduced, but that won’t be the case. And I will be signing settlements to that and posting them very shortly.”

The minister also said it was important for Ukrainians to settle and integrate into Irish society as quickly as possible.

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She said: “We have to settle them and then, of course, many of them will find jobs. So we want to integrate them into society as quickly as possible.”

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said the government could consider how it could help landlords with the cost of opening their doors to refugees.

Tanaiste Leo Varadkar said on Sunday that Irish people who open their doors are unlikely to get financial compensation.

He said: “What we’re really telling people is that it’s a selfless thing, not something we would intend to pay people for.”

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More than 10,000 refugees have arrived in Ireland from Ukraine in the past three weeks.

More than a third of those arrivals have arrived in Ireland in the past week alone.

This is the equivalent of the total number of refugee claims in Ireland over the past four years, according to the Irish Refugee Council.

DONATION REQUEST

So far, over 20,000 offers of accommodation have been made for Ukrainian refugees through the Irish Red Cross.

It comes as the Irish have been urged to stop sending donations to Poland for people fleeing Ukraine – but instead prepare welcome packs for refugees arriving here.

Teresa Boczkowska, integration manager at the Irish Immigration Council, who visited Poland to assess the needs of people fleeing the Russian invasion, said Ireland should start planning for long-term settlement term of Ukrainian refugees.

Speaking on RTE’s Morning Ireland, she said: “People don’t really want to (go further) than Poland.

‘VULNERABLE’

“They expect to be able to go home in the next few days, and we all know that’s not going to happen.”

She explained that those currently arriving in Poland are much more vulnerable.

She said: “The cohort of people now arriving in Poland is much more vulnerable.

“People coming to Poland in the first wave, they were much better off. They were able to endure their own journey.

“People who come in right now, they come in quite often with nothing more than clothes on their backs.”

But Ms Boczkowska said centers in Poland were now receiving many donations and the Irish might instead consider putting together welcome packs for refugees arriving here.

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said Ireland had already taken in some 10,000 refugees with more than 20,000 homes ready to open.

“HUGE” CHALLENGE

The transport minister said Ireland must challenge Russia’s “economic strength”.

Minister Ryan said: “We need to do more, I was speaking to Minister Simon Coveney last night and he will be attending a meeting with EU Foreign and Defense Ministers today.

“We will push for even tougher sanctions.

“We don’t have fighter jets, we can’t impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine, but we can and will exert additional pressure in every way possible on the Russian government to let him abstain and stop.

“We have also in this country, like all other European countries, opened our doors and how we deal with this, some 10,000 people have already arrived.

“There will be more to come and the challenge this presents is immense beyond compare.”

HEROIC RESPONSE

He added: “The Irish have shown, we have some 20,000 homes that have said they are ready to help and the management of that, the organization of safe shelter and sanctuary.

“The third thing we can do is ultimately one of the best ways to deal with this Putin regime is to stop sending the hundreds of millions of euros that we are sending every day for the imported coal, oil and gas that Russia exports and helps finance this war.

“We have the potential to do this, not only to help in the war situation, but also to help us in our independence.”

Meanwhile, a new website has been launched to allow Irish businesses to offer free or discounted items to anyone fleeing war in Ukraine.

Tech For Good Dublin has created the new website, called Pryvit.ie, which is a non-profit venture to accommodate those arriving in Ireland from Ukraine.

Pryvit, which means hello in Ukrainian, will allow Irish businesses to make a welcome offer to anyone arriving in Ireland from Ukraine.

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The website is operated in English and Ukrainian.

Businesses can offer deals on products such as supermarkets, pharmacies, cafes, and gyms.