Martin says he has seen no risk to social cohesion due to Ukrainian refugee response

Taoiseach Micheál Martin also said he did not believe practice of TDs sleeping in their cars because they could not get a hotel room was 'a widespread phenomenon'
Martin says he has seen no risk to social cohesion due to Ukrainian refugee response

Taoiseach Micheál Martin: 'I think as a country we have responded very well to the worst humanitarian crisis since the 1940s, caused by the invasion of Ukraine.'

The Taoiseach says he has seen no signs of any risk to social cohesion arising out of the State’s generous response to the Ukrainian refugee crisis.

Micheál Martin also said he did not believe the practice of TDs and senators sleeping in their cars because of a shortage of hotel beds in the capital was widespread.

He was responding on Monday to two separate reports which emerged over the weekend linked to impacts of the State's response to those fleeing the war in Ukraine.

It was reported on Sunday the Government has been warned that the arrival of tens of thousands of Ukrainian refugees into towns and cities here poses a risk to social cohesion and integration, particularly among deprived communities.

The risk analysis memo also warned that Ireland’s current humanitarian response could become unsustainable in the coming weeks, with a risk that those displaced by the war in Ukraine may not be able to secure accommodation, education, income support or access employment.

A newspaper report on Monday claimed a shortage of hotel rooms as tourism recovers from the pandemic, coupled with the block-booking of rooms for Ukrainian refugees, has meant some Oireachtas members are staying in guest accommodation that is over an hour’s travel from Dublin, and a TD based in the west of Ireland claimed he had to sleep in his car twice in recent weeks because he couldn’t find suitable accommodation.

Mr Martin said: “I don’t think it is a widespread phenomenon, to be frank about it."

While tourism figures have rebounded, he said: 

There is always pressure in a city like Dublin in terms of accommodation but I don’t think there are too many TDs sleeping in cars.

“But there are pressures on accommodation — of that there is no doubt. There are different types of hotels in different locations. The challenge is there but we are in a very unique set of circumstances in the world and obviously that has impacts.” 

He said he had not seen any signs of a risk to social cohesion arising out of how the State has welcomed Ukrainian refugees, and he said Fianna Fáil grassroots members had not raised any concerns with him about its potential electoral impact either.

“Risk analysis has to happen and people will prepare a risk analysis on what could potentially could happen,” he said.

“I think as a country we have responded very well to the worst humanitarian crisis since the 1940s, caused by the invasion of Ukraine.

My experience has been a very warm response by the Irish people to the people of Ukraine and an understanding of the terrible circumstances that the people of Ukraine find themselves in.

“We all see the levelling of towns villages cities, we see women and children traumatised, fleeing the war. Many facilities across the country have been used for Ukrainians who are fleeing the war.” 

He said as he attended the Cork-Tipperary match in Thurles on Sunday and met many fans who said they had brought Ukrainian citizens with them to see hurling, and earlier, at the opening of Marina Park in Cork City, he said he met more Ukrainian citizens who are “very, very appreciative of the response of the Irish people and the manner in which Irish people have taken them to their hearts”.

“The war should end and we have repeatedly, through the European Union and ourselves, called on Russia to cease hostilities and to stop this war because the human destruction is appalling and the impacts on families and people will be long-term if it doesn’t come to an end very, very quickly," he said.

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