Up to 40,000 Ukrainian refugees expected in Ireland by end of April

Government identifies 500 buildings to house those fleeing the war

The number of Ukrainian refugees in Ireland is expected to double by the end of next week, and double again in April, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has told the Dáil.

He said the Government expected the number of refugees would reach 20,000 by the end of this month and 40,000 by the end of next month.

Mr Varadkar gave some details of the Government’s preparations for the arrival of tens of thousands of refugees but warned that the State’s efforts would face constraints.

The Government has identified about 500 buildings that could be used to house some of the refugees.


Cabinet was told on Tuesday morning that there would be a meeting with builders on accommodation, while the Department of Housing was talking to local authorities about what else they could do, and the Office of Public Works and the HSE were looking at State-owned sites.

Citywest, Millstreet Arena, the National Show Centre and land at Gormanstown owned by the Defence Forces are also being considered for use, Ministers heard.

The Cabinet meeting was attended via Zoom by Taoiseach Micheál Martin, who is isolating in Washington DC following his positive Covid-19 test last week. He asked Mr Varadkar to chair the meeting.

At a briefing afterwards, Minister for Integration Roderic O'Gorman said about 500 buildings have been identified by local authorities which could house refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine.

Mr O’Gorman, whose department is responsible for sourcing accommodation for those arriving into the country in the first instance, said the Department of Housing had asked the local authorities for buildings that could be repurposed and refurbished.

Mr O’Gorman said that as of Monday evening, 10,147 Ukrainians had arrived into the country, and of those 4,710 have sought and received accommodation - largely in over 2,000 hotel rooms. Some 8,500 have come through Dublin Airport and 850 came through Rosslare, where a hub is being put in to receive refugees.

Based on the number of people who had fled Ukraine so far - 3.4 million, according to the United Nations - about 68,000 would make their way to Ireland, the Minister said.

He added there were 22 unaccompanied minors in the country who fled Ukraine, and that this was a “small but growing” number. He confirmed vetting would be put in place for offers of shared accommodation where a child or vulnerable adult was involved, with a targeted turnaround time of seven days.

Asked about claims that Ryanair has increased flight fares from Poland - which the airline denies - Mr O’Gorman said any company profiteering off the situation would be “disgraceful” but that he did not have enough information to say whether Ryanair was doing so.

Hosting costs

Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys confirmed that people hosting refugees would not have their social welfare payments affected.

She said that, for example, someone in receipt of the living alone allowance would not lose their entitlement. However, she indicated the Government had not given consideration at this stage to providing help to households hosting refugees with the cost of doing so.

She added there was a hope that a lot of the Ukrainians who came here would move into jobs and be integrated into society fully, flagging the IT sector as one where many Ukrainians had skills. She said many companies had come to her department offering jobs and accommodation.

She said 7,326 people from Ukraine had been issued with PPS numbers - 88 per cent being women or children, 51 per cent being women, 37 per cent children, and 12 per cent being adult men. Nine per cent of the adults are aged 66 or over. Of the children 16 per cent are infants or in preschool, 52 per cent are of primary school age, and 31 per cent are secondary school age.

Income supports are being paid to 5,100 Ukrainians and child support is being paid in respect of 1,838 people.

In a statement released after cabinet, the Government said it has considered “a number of challenges facing the economy, notably the impact on households, businesses, agriculture and industry of rising energy prices”.

Mr O’Gorman said he was considering, with his partner, whether to take refugees into their home. Ms Humphreys said like Mr O’Gorman, she would consider best how to help refugees.

Earlier, Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue said Ireland could take in as many as 200,000 refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine,

Mr McConalogue said that Ireland has no option but to “reach out to those of our fellow European citizens who are displaced who have nowhere else to go.”

"We have to do our best", said Mr McConalogue acknowledging to RTÉ radio's Morning Ireland that the task would be challenging.