Irish people bend over backwards to welcome refugees despite cost of living crisis

Most of the volunteers welcoming new arrivals at Palyanytsya Gate fled Ukraine after the invasion.

Alina Krytska, 29, a tax official from Kyiv, volunteers every day to distract herself from worrying about her family and her boyfriend back home.

She arrived from Poland only on March 9, after a three-day train journey in constant fear of a Russian attack.

“The Irish are really nice. I have never met such good people,” she said.

There is a housing crisis in Ireland and pressure from newcomers is starting to be felt.

There were 16,000 asylum applications in Ireland from 2017 to 2022 and now 22,000 Ukrainians have arrived in the three months since the February invasion.

Nick Henderson, CEO of the Irish Refugee Council, said around 14,000 Ukrainians have been housed in public accommodation, but space is rapidly becoming scarce.

The Irish Refugee Council received 2,000 offers to host refugees and the Irish Red Cross more than 24,000.

The process of approving bids and ensuring their suitability is slow. Nearly half of the 5,357 offers of vacant Red Cross homes have failed.

The government has issued an urgent appeal for further pledges and is considering paying people to house Ukrainians in their vacation homes.

It is also developing plans for “camp bed” type accommodation in large “warehouse-like” facilities, which NGOs say are not suitable for families.

“There are 62,000 holiday homes in Ireland,” said Mr Henderson, who described the public response as “incredible”.

“If we can get just 10% of that, it will make a real difference.”

The Catholic Church plans to use its vast property portfolio to help and the smallest Church in Ireland is already welcoming refugees into its home.

Dublin Rathdown TD Neale Richmond admitted there was a risk of resentment against the Ukrainians but said he was proud of the Irish response after watching the crisis unfold on their TV screens and smartphones.

“You look at cities where you see H&M and Zara and people wearing Adidas tracksuits and that’s very relevant to Irish people,” he said.

‘We need a lot more people to come into the country anyway and we won’t get the houses we need if we don’t have the people to build them,’ added the Fine Gael politician .

“There are job opportunities for Ukrainians,” said Brendan Smith, Fianna Fáil’s TD for Cavan/Monaghan and chairman of the Ukraine Parliamentary Friendship Group.

The war launched a debate over Irish neutrality and even NATO membership.

“Even though Ireland is a militarily neutral country, let me be clear, we are not neutral in this war,” Simon Coveney, Ireland’s foreign minister, said Thursday in kyiv.

About Andrew Estofan

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