Ukrainian refugees are being “housed in beautiful locations and seasonal hotels,” claims Clare TD, who says the district is struggling to meet their needs

Ukrainian refugees cannot be “guided by Irish cutie marks,” an Oireachtas committee has heard.

It comes as the government approved plans for a €400 monthly payment for households hosting refugees from Ukraine.

Integration Secretary Roderic O’Gorman and his officials faced questions from an Oireachtas committee on the government’s response to Ukraine’s refugee crisis.

Fianna Fáil TD Cathal Crowe, representing Clare, made a highly charged intervention to warn that his district was struggling to provide Ukrainian refugees with all the necessary services.

Mr Crowe, along with Social Democrat TD Holly Cairns, asked Mr O’Gorman why Ukrainians were not forced into the widely criticized direct care system, unlike thousands of other refugees arriving in Ireland.

Mr Crowe said 2 percent of the population in the county is now Ukrainian.

“If you and I were fleeing a war situation in Ireland and had to go to Ukraine, I wouldn’t want to be placed somewhere nice on a green hill or somewhere with nice waves crashing onto shore.

“I want to be taken to a place that ticks more than the roof over my head box, a place that could meet my family’s educational, transportation and health needs.

“That’s not the strategy at the moment.

“You will be sent to scenic locations. Which is fine in May 2022 but will be a different story in the fall?

“This can’t all be channeled through Ireland’s beauty spots and seasonal hotels. No one pays attention to the services these people need, the pastoral care, the support.

“It won’t haunt us now, but it will haunt us in the coming months. We need a more holistic, nationwide response.”

Mr O’Gorman, who said in his opening remarks to the committee that parts of the government’s response had been “imperfect”, said the EU’s Temporary Protection Directive is the reason for the different treatment of Ukrainians compared to other refugees.

“That may be a convincing reason or an unconvincing reason, but that’s the reason. There is a very significant number of Ukrainians in Clare.

“I understand its impact on very small towns and villages,” he told Mr Crowe as he stressed refugees would be housed across the country.

“We are in a European war right now. This is not normal in any context.

“One MP said we didn’t expect it last year. We didn’t expect that on February 14 of this year.

“Our reactions had to be an emergency.”

Mr O’Gorman also spoke at length about the arrangements for the new opt-in payment, which was approved by Cabinet on Tuesday and will require new legislation.

He said it could take as long as July for people to receive the payment, which will be paid as long as a Ukrainian family or individual lives in an Irish household for at least six months.

He said it’s a “flat fee” and doesn’t change even if someone is hosting more than one Ukrainian person.

“I know there’s a very large number of people who probably don’t want to take that, who feel like they’re doing this out of solidarity,” Mr O’Gorman said.

“Also, it was important for us to recognize that in terms of cost of living pressures, there are definitely additional costs involved in having someone live in your home and we wanted to provide that recognition.

“It’s not taxable, the payment, and it doesn’t interfere with the allocation of any welfare benefits.” Ukrainian refugees are being “housed in beautiful locations and seasonal hotels,” claims Clare TD, who says the district is struggling to meet their needs

Fry Electronics Team

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