More than 62,000 Ukrainians in Ireland, as ‘extraordinary’ response praised

There are more than 62,000 Ukrainian nationals living in Ireland, according to the latest figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO).

The figure is based on 62,425 personal public service numbers (PPSNs) issued to Ukrainian nationals from the temporary protection directive.

Ireland’s premier Micheal Martin praised people’s “extraordinary response” in housing Ukrainians fleeing their country since the Russian invasion, and said communities which had housed a high proportion of Ukrainians would be “supported” with new infrastructure.

Of the total living in Ireland, 46,000 have been housed by the state and by citizens, with a further 17,000 in direct provision or in international protection centres.

This compares with about 7,500 asylum seekers who were in direct provision centres last year.

More than 14,000 Ukrainian children are attending Irish primary and secondary schools, with children and teenagers making up 34% of arrivals.

Women and men aged 20 and older account for 46% and 20% of arrivals respectively.

Of the total, 8,618 Ukrainian refugees are enrolled in further education and training courses, with the vast majority enrolled in English language courses.

As of November, 69% of the arrivals who attended employment support events said English language proficiency was a challenge in securing employment.

Mr Martin said there had been “an extraordinary response” from Ireland to take in Ukrainian refugees, but he does have concerns about the possible rise of anti-immigrant sentiment.

“It’s our expectation that the vast, vast majority of Ukrainians will go back to the Ukraine in the aftermath of the war,” the Taoiseach said on RTE Radio.

“That certainly is their intention, I mean, they don’t necessarily want to be here. They’re here because of a terrible immoral war visited upon them by (Russian president Vladimir) Putin.”

“We appreciate the efforts that people are making in communities all over the country, it has been very positive.

“And to that end, we’ve allocated additional funds to communities and we believe also that communities that have a higher burden because perhaps the availability of accommodation facilitated that, that we would support those communities in other ways in terms of their cultural, sporting infrastructure in that community.

“In other words, that in acknowledgement and in recognition of the efforts they have made that we would allocate additional resources in recognition of that.”

He said that Cabinet had acknowledged that there had been “significant responses” in certain communities that needed to be acknowledged.

Ministers have repeatedly warned of the challenge of sourcing accommodation amid Ireland’s years-long housing crisis, and admitted recently that newly arriving Ukrainian refugees may have to sleep on the streets temporarily while accommodation is sourced.

In order to help increase capacity, a refusals policy has been introduced which means refugees who refuse an offer of suitable accommodation will not be offered another option.

The Irish Government is also doubling the payments for people hosting Ukrainian refugees to 800 euro a month.

The Government has asked its departments to list public buildings that could be modified as emergency accommodation for any newly arriving Ukrainian nationals.

When asked whether he was worried about the possible rise of anti-immigrant sentiment, Mr Martin said that he would “always be concerned about that potential”.

“I would say to people we do need really to hold our nerve against Putin because this is what Putin wants,” he told RTE Radio.

“This is his calculation, that populations across Europe will start engaging or who will start reacting negatively to their governments, creating political issues.”

He said that the Russian president’s strategy was “to undermine the resolve of European member states to stand with Ukraine”.

He added that there was a need for Europe “to stand up against the idea that a neighbour can invade another country, and because you’re small as a country, you can be taken over and your democracy can be suppressed”.

“In the overall context, I would say it’s been a very strong response by Ireland,” he said.