Independent TD for Louth Peter Fitzpatrick
Dundalk Independent TD Peter Fitzpatrick has called on the government to make supports available to Irish people and families who opened their homes to Ukrainian refugees in a leader's questions speech to the Dail yesterday.
Deputy Fitzpatrick told the Taoiseach that he had received calls from local constituents in Louth who were finding it “financially challenging” to cope with the increase in their energy and food bills having taken in Ukrainian refugees.
“Over the past weeks, I have had many calls and visits from the families who took in Ukrainian refugees to outline the difficulties that they face.
“It is important to put on record that those people have not for one minute regretted their decision to take in Ukrainian refugees, and if they had to do it again, they would not hesitate.
“The issue people are having is that they feel isolated, with no support.
“They have very little, if any, contact from the relevant Departments. They feel they have nowhere to go for support and advice.
They have increased energy and food bills and, on top of this, there are massive hikes in energy prices.
“The commercial hotels and bed and breakfast accommodation are being paid to house Ukrainian refugees. The people who opened their homes to the same refugees are not getting any support.
“I ask the Taoiseach to assist with this issue and get proper support to the many thousands of Irish people and families who have opened their homes to Ukrainian refugees.
“This morning, the Taoiseach told the Ukrainian president, "our home is your home."
“Thousands of Irish people have opened their homes to Ukrainian refugees. I believe this is the right place for them to be. It is a family atmosphere.
“Irish people have always put their shoulders to the wheel when needed. Irish people are not complaining and would do this again and again but they are getting no support.
“They get bills, including electricity bills, pick up Ukrainian children to bring them to school every day, and are looking for nothing.
“Everything is increasing. All I am asking for is for the Government to help these people the way they helped the Ukrainian refugees."
The Taoiseach told Deputy Fitzpatrick that income support is immediately available from the Department of Social Protection once refugees come into the country, under the European Union's temporary protection directive. Health services are also being provided for the families who have arrived in the country.
He went on to state:
“We are establishing community response forums in each local authority to coordinate local responses to the Ukraine crisis.
“That forum will bring together all of the community and voluntary organisations which are active locally, as well as the mayor or cathaoirleach of each local authority.
“These local forums are best placed to put arrangements in place to help the new arrivals from Ukraine to access services.”
In response Deputy Fitzpatrick told the Taoiseach that:
“These families are not looking for profit, they are simply looking for support for the extra costs that they have incurred. While I appreciate the Taoiseach’s reply, he never once mentioned the people.
“These people went up to Dublin Airport, they collected these families and they took them back in good faith. Now they realise that there is a serious cost there. Many of these families have children and families of their own.
“With ESB bills, electricity bills and all of these bills rising, all they are doing is looking for a bit of help.
“The Government is quick enough to pay the hotels. It is quick enough to pay the bed and breakfasts. They are not looking for a profit.
“On social protection, I acknowledge that these refugees are getting social welfare, which is fine, but they need that money for themselves, for shoes and clothes for their own family.”
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