Taoiseach Micheál Martin has conceded that housing Ukrainian people here in Ireland will be “very challenging” and there are “no readymade solutions”.
Speaking in Limerick on Friday, Mr Martin acknowledged the scale of the problem given the country’s housing crisis.
“It will not be easy, we don't have readymade solutions for the scale and numbers that are going to arrive, but we are going to do the very best that we can,” he said.
"We are in a wartime situation, which is something we haven't experienced really since the 1940s, in terms of such a mass movement of people in such a very short space of time, from a war-zone into neighbouring countries within the European Union.
"That will have impacts, there are no easy answers, there are no easy solutions," he said
The Taoiseach said Ireland will have to “reflect” on its longstanding policy of neutrality on foot of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
He said Ireland is “facilitating” the European Peace Facility, which, he noted was, for the first time, deploying “lethal weapons” to Ukraine to defend their country against Russian soldiers.
“We are not neutral in respect of what’s happening in Ukraine,” he said.
Mr Martin said the EU decision taken last weekend to provide funds and delivery of lethal weapons was a significant development.
He said Ireland has “already evolved” its neutrality policy within the European Union “by participating in PESCO” the European defence agency, “and also in terms of threats around cybersecurity, and peace enforcement missions under the EU umbrella”.
Mr Martin said discussions around Ireland and NATO were “for another day”, yet he acknowledged that while Ireland was presently focussed on supporting sanctions against Russia and sending humanitarian aid to Ukraine, “President Putin’s assault on Ukraine threatens the world order and that does cause and is an occasion for reflection”.
He said he was “very concerned” about the risk of Russian missiles potentially striking a nuclear reactor in Ukraine, and what that would mean for Ireland and the rest of Europe.
The Taoiseach also moved to reassure 450 workers at the Russian-owned Aughinish Alumina refinery in Askeaton, Co Limerick, that Ireland would do everything it could to ensure it would not be included on sanctions list.
While sanctions are being continually reviewed, he said: "What’s very important is that the balance is right, that the objective of sanctions is to punish Russia not Europe, and that applies to Aughinish alumina and others because Aughinish is of strategic importance to Europe.
"So we have to balance that and bear all of that in mind, which the European Commission and the US and others have done in designing the sanctions that have been imposed."
Meanwhile, the Tánaiste said that Ireland must show "solidarity" with countries in eastern Europe as it takes in Ukrainian refugees.
Asked about the number of Ukrainian refugees Ireland might take, Mr Varadkar said that every effort will be made to house people. A meeting of Ministers heard that modular housing may need to be built on State lands in order to cater for the number of refugees Ireland is asked to take in. However, Mr Varadkar said that that idea may not be quicker or cheaper.
"I'm not quite sure where the idea of modular housing on state lands comes from. If it were that simple, we would have done it already for people who are homeless or for people that are on the housing list. Where modular housing has been attempted, it actually takes pretty much as long as normal housing. It's the delay in the roads and the utilities and all the rest of it.
On the housing of the potentially tens of thousands of Ukrainians that may come to Ireland, Mr Varadkar said that all options were being explored and said that Ireland will not have as much work to do as other countries and now was the time to recognise that.
"When it comes to numbers of Ukrainians that come here, we just don't know how many that's going to be. You know, I would bear in mind that, you know, these are people who are coming from European countries will have similar rights to other EU citizens.
"There will be people who are coming with children, older people, and they might not have family members or people to stay with and we will need to provide accommodation for them.
“But this is something we're just going to have to manage and we're looking at all sorts of different options - hotels, for example, other forms of accommodation,” he said.