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22nd Mar 2022

Ukrainian refugees will be in Ireland “for a long time, if not indefinitely” – Varadkar

Dave Hanratty

Ireland Ukraine refugees

Ireland’s population is likely to increase by 1%, with approximately 40,000 refugees expected in the country in the coming weeks.

Ireland will have welcomed approximately 40,000 Ukrainian refugees to its shores by the end of April, according to Tánaiste Leo Varadkar.

Speaking as Leaders’ Questions resumed in Dáil Éireann following a week off, Varadkar addressed the country’s response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in terms of housing Ukrainian citizens who have fled the conflict.

Forecasting the weeks ahead, the Tánaiste referred to the “enormous crisis” and noted that “there will be tens of thousands of Ukrainians with us for a long time, if not indefinitely”.

As of Tuesday (22 March), over 10,000 Ukrainians have arrived in Ireland and have registered for international protection.

“We expect that number will rise to 20,000 by the end of the month and it’s reasonable to assume that it will probably hit something around 40,000 by the end of next month, although nobody can know for sure,” said Varadkar.

“So, what we’re seeing in the course of a few weeks is effectively a 1% increase in our population, only in the course of a few weeks.

“And that’s going to have serious impacts,” Varadkar continued.

“On education, on healthcare, on housing, on social protection, on public finances, even on things like greenhouse gas emissions; absolutely all our calculations change when your population increases by 1% or 2%, even in the course of a few weeks.”

Providing context, the Tánaiste referred to Ireland having around 10,000 people in emergency accommodation “when homelessness was at its worst”.

“We have about 7,000 people in Direct Provision at the moment,” he added.

“We now have 10,000 Ukrainians seeking international protection; probably 20,000 by the end of the month, 40,000 by the end of the month after.

“So, this is the scale of the crisis we are dealing with.

“I need to be honest with the House and with the Irish people – it’s not going to be possible to provide what we’d like to provide, which is self-catering own-door accommodation for everyone in the space of a few weeks, or even the space of a few months.

“This is going to be a very difficult crisis to deal with and every country in Europe is going to be in the same boat in having to provide as good accommodation as we possibly can, given the circumstances” the Tánaiste said.

Varadkar noted that the Government’s response on this front is being led by Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth Roderic O’Gorman, though “almost every department” is pitching in.

20,000 pledges of accommodation have been put forward by the Irish public to date.

“I expect whatever we have to do to help Ukrainians will be a recurring spend for a number of years,” said Varadkar.

“There will be tens of thousands of Ukrainians with us for a long time, if not indefinitely, so we will have to do a budget assessment of that and it’s underway.”

Featured Image of Leo Varadkar via Sam Boal /

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