The war in Ukraine is being used as an “excuse” to delay the end of direct supplies, a senior government adviser said.
Rishwoman Catherine Day, a former secretary-general of the European Commission and one of three advisers to Minister for Children and Equality Roderic O’Gorman on the direct care white paper, said the government must speed up the construction of new reception centres.
“There is no willingness to address it and Ukrainians are now becoming an excuse,” Day said Irish Independent at an event organized by the Franco-Irish Chamber of Commerce this week.
“We still don’t have government reception centers for them, and we need to build them.
“I think the crux of the matter is that politicians fear it could take homes away from the Irish.
“They have to come out the other side and say: This is our future population and we have to build houses for everyone.”
In a 2021 white paper, the government pledged to replace direct deployment with a new “international protection” regime by the end of 2024.
It aims to process asylum applications within four months, during which time people would be housed in government reception centers before being transferred to the community. After six months they were allowed to work.
The Ministry for Children, Equality, Disability, Inclusion and Youth said the war in Ukraine had “an inevitable impact on the deadlines for implementing the white paper”.
More than 46,000 refugees have arrived in Ireland from Ukraine, with over 36,000 being housed by the state, while the total number of people seeking international protection has “increased significantly”, the ministry said.
Day was speaking at an event marking 50 years of Ireland’s EU membership, where she called on the country to “pay back” some of the solidarity it has received from the bloc over the years, particularly on Brexit.
“It sounds very crude, but that’s how people think.
“That’s what I mean by being the mature member now, the adult. You have to take on more responsibility and maybe do things that you are not interested in or only marginally interested in, or that even come with a certain price.”
Day helped steer the EU through the financial crisis and two referendums on the Lisbon Treaty, and was instrumental in a pre-Brexit bid by former British Prime Minister David Cameron to overhaul his country’s relationship with the bloc.
They had no numbers, no analysis on it
She said the current UK government was “incompetent” and that last week’s market slump in sterling was the culmination of years of “decompetence” in the British political class.
“I think what we saw from the inside as declining competence the outside world might not have seen, but last week it was there in big letters: This is not a competent government.”
The British pound fell to a record low of just over a dollar on September 26, days after Britain’s new Chancellor, Kwasi Kwarteng, announced a mini-budget for tax cuts.
It has since recovered following intervention by the Bank of England and a top tax rate cut.
“All my time in the EU, it’s been the British who have been hitting us over the head with better regulation and impact assessment and all that,” Day said.
“And then that they had no numbers, no analysis on that: That’s stunning. They refused to have it done. Why? Because they knew it wouldn’t work. I think that was when the penny dropped.”
Since Day left the European Commission in 2015, the number of Irish nationals in (and for) top positions in the Brussels institutions has declined.
David O’Sullivan, Day’s predecessor as Secretary-General, left his role as EU ambassador to the US when his term ended in 2019.
You have to invest in the relationships
This makes Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe’s position as head of the Eurogroup “very important,” Day said.
Ireland will relinquish the role once Mr Donohoe hands over the financial portfolio to Fianna Fáil’s Michael McGrath in December, unless Fine Gael can reach a last-minute agreement with its coalition partners.
“I think those positions are very important and you have to ask yourself, why are other countries fighting to get them?” Tag said.
“But we all know that politics very often trumps everything else, and that’s life.”
She believes Ireland has a shot at other top jobs, such as President of the European Council – which is currently being filled by Belgian Charles Michel until the end of 2024 – but said the government needs to assert itself early and well.
There is speculation in Irish circles that Tánaiste and soon-to-be (again) Taoiseach Leo Varadkar may be eyeing the role.
“You have to have a good candidate and you have to be clear about why you want them, why you think they’re the right person, and you have to start planting the seeds early,” Day said.
“You have to invest in relationships. This will need time. You can’t just barge in and say, ‘I’m the new prime minister, give me what I want.’”
https://www.independent.ie/business/world/ukraine-war-used-as-an-excuse-to-delay-direct-provisions-end-says-irishwoman-who-is-the-former-top-eu-civil-servant-42049534.html The war in Ukraine is being used as an “excuse” to delay the end of direct supplies, says the Irish woman, the former top EU official