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Refugees: The latest Government Smoke Screen. Episode 98

Niall Boylan | October 25, 2023
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    Refugees: The latest Government Smoke Screen. Episode 98
    Niall Boylan

In this episode, Niall delves into a recent controversy surrounding the accommodation of refugees fleeing Ukraine in Ireland. A proposed new approach, which suggests that Ukrainian refugees should be accommodated for only 90 days before being sent to the private sector, has ignited a heated debate.

This topic arose from a recent article in The Irish Times, which unveiled a significant rift within the Irish government. The cabinet witnessed what’s been described as “the most divisive, heated discussion” among ministers since the formation of the coalition.

Minister for Integration, Roderic O’Gorman, presented a new approach to accommodating Ukrainian refugees, arguing that the current system was unsustainable and would lead to people being left on the streets. The proposal suggested that refugees should be housed for only 90 days before being moved to the private sector.

Tánaiste Micheál Martin raised concerns that this would essentially shift the responsibility to the Department of Housing, which would have to provide housing and homelessness services after 90 days. Similar concerns were echoed by Minister for Housing, Darragh O’Brien.

Government sources also mentioned plans to establish “five or six” major centers for Ukrainians across the country and gradually phase out the use of hotels. Disagreement persisted over the idea that refugees would be asked to leave these temporary centers after 90 days.

There was also debate about the high social welfare rates in Ireland possibly acting as a magnet for Ukrainian refugees.

The discussion escalates as Niall opens the lines to callers. Some believe that this is a smoke screen, asserting that the 90-day restriction is merely a technicality, as refugees would still receive benefits. These callers argue that the government should prioritize Irish citizens who are homeless and struggling to make ends meet.

On the other hand, some callers contend that turning away those fleeing war and seeking safety is not an option. They believe that Ukrainian refugees should be given a chance to work and rebuild their lives. These callers argue that helping refugees and supporting vulnerable Irish citizens are not mutually exclusive.

Join the conversation as Niall wraps up this contentious debate, examining the complexities of this humanitarian issue that has divided opinions across the nation.

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