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Ireland to take 500 Ukrainian refugees from Moldova

The Irish premier said 6,646 Ukrainian refugees have now come into Ireland.


People fleeing the war in Ukraine at the border crossing in Palanca, Moldova (Sergei Grits/AP)

People fleeing the war in Ukraine at the border crossing in Palanca, Moldova (Sergei Grits/AP)

People fleeing the war in Ukraine at the border crossing in Palanca, Moldova (Sergei Grits/AP)

Ireland will take 500 Ukrainian refugees who are currently in Moldova, the country’s premier has confirmed.

Micheal Martin, who is in Washington for the St Patrick’s Day celebrations, said: “We have just had a cabinet meeting by videolink, mainly on the Ukrainian war and the crisis that is unfolding, the humanitarian crisis.

“We confirmed the support scheme that was agreed earlier in the week in respect of the support for truckers and the haulage industry in light of the exceptional pressures that they are under.

“The Cabinet also decided to accept 500 Ukrainian refugees who have fled into Moldova, given the enormous pressure Moldova is under at the moment.

“We will be taking those refugees in towards the end of this week and that is in addition to those that have come in already.”

Mr Martin, who will meet US president Joe Biden this week as part of the traditional St Patrick’s Day ceremony at the White House, said that about 6,646 Ukrainian refugees have now come into Ireland.

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He also said the EU had agreed further sanctions against Russia.

He said: “Thousands of units of accommodation have been secured by the Department of Children and they are continuing to secure additional accommodation.

“They are looking beyond that at the pledges which have been received and they will commence with those properties that are empty with a view to making sure that we can accommodate those who will continue to come into the country.”

He added: “There is a range of European Union meetings happening over coming days.

“The European Union have announced further sanctions this morning particularly in terms of iron and steel, listing further individuals, getting rid of the most favoured nation status that Russia enjoyed at the WTO, so the benefits derived from the WTO would be denied Russia, and a number of other measures as well and further sanctions would be kept under constant review.

“We again call on Russia to end the war, it is an appalling tragedy unfolding, it is an appalling immoral attack on the people of Ukraine which has shocked the world in terms of its human toll, and it is absolutely vital that Russia would cease all hostilities.”

Earlier, the Irish Minister for Finance said the sanctions were having an impact on Russia.

“The measures that have been brought in are, in effect, undermining or may indeed stop the ability of the Russian economy to fund this murderous war,” Paschal Donohoe said.

“And to see what has happened with the value of the rouble, that their stock markets are no longer functioning and that the central bank is now not able to access foreign exchange reserves and needs to convert the rouble, it is a sign that what is in place at the moment has already had a huge effect, combined with the decisions that private sector companies all over the world are now making.

Mr Donohoe also said that the Government is not considering any further measures to mitigate against the rising cost of living and energy costs and warned that the Government is not able to insulate the economy and businesses from higher costs.

“We will keep all of this under very active review. At the moment, and up to the budget which I will do in October, I and the Government have no further plans to add to what we have just done,” he added.

“The reason for that is we’re still about to implement the measures that we have just agreed to.

“So the excise reduction last week between nine and 13 euros per tank of diesel and petrol, that has been implemented.

“For many that has been offset by the increase in the price of fuel that has happened since then.

“But the 125 euro payments that have been made to those who need additional support with the cost of fuel has just now been made to over 300,000 homes.

“The 200 euro credit that will appear in your energy bill is yet to be implemented, but will be implemented soon.

“The measures that we have put in place we believe are a strong response back to the difficulty that many are facing, but I want to underline that given the challenge that is under way, we will not be able to insulate either economy, businesses or even ourselves from this entire cost.”

Meanwhile Ukrainian ambassador to Ireland Larysa Gerasko said the Ukrainians who have arrived in Ireland are grateful for the “warm welcome”.

“I met many of our Ukrainians, some of them came to the consulate,” she added.

“Our people, of course, they are frustrated, many of them came from the cities that are under shelling and firing.

“They got accommodation, PPS number, first aid. They have, of course, a lot of question on how to get education, how to register their kid to go school or kindergarten, how would you arrange to see a GP.

“It’s everyday things but it’s very difficult for them, especially (for those) who haven’t any relatives or friends here to understand how this system in foreign countries work.

Many Ukrainians and even my friends, they don't know that they don't need a visa to get to IrelandLarysa Gerasko, Ukrainian ambassador to Ireland

“Many of them don’t speak English. So it’s also a problem but many people from the Ukrainian community here help our newcomers with the translation and many, many other things.”

She said that while it is difficult to predict the number of refugees who will seek help in Ireland, she estimates it to be about 80,000 people.

She said that Ukrainians have been made aware that Ireland has waived its visa requirements.

“But many Ukrainians and even my friends, they don’t know that they don’t need a visa to get to Ireland,” Ms Gerasko added.

“So we will make an information campaign again in Ukrainian mass media. Of course I’m sure that many thousands will arrive.”

Mairead McGuinness, the Irish European Commissioner, said on Tuesday that sanctions were working against Russia.

She said: “I think perhaps we have overlooked their impact, because the Russian economy is in freefall.

“It is not because we want to hurt Russian citizens, it is because we want to hurt the war machine. And we are doing that and it is very effective.”

If there is a further escalation, what do we do? And the truth of all this is, while we hope there won't be, we have to remain flexible and agileMairead McGuinness, Irish European Commissioner

Ms McGuinness refused to be drawn on what actions the EU might take if a Russian strike was to hit the territory of a member state.

The potential for the conflict in Ukraine to trigger a wider clash was underlined over the weekend with a strike close to the border with Poland.

“If there is a further escalation, what do we do? And the truth of all this is, while we hope there won’t be, we have to remain flexible and agile,” she said.

“We don’t have a European army. We don’t have that capacity. And I don’t think we want to fight a war. We want to stop a war at all possible costs.”

She told RTE radio: “We hope that some of the peace talks which are happening will yield results. Because frankly, this scenario that we are facing as citizens of Europe is quite concerning.”

In an interview with RTE News on Tuesday , the Taoiseach echoed her.

He said world leaders were doing everything possible to defend Ukraine, while also trying to avoid a dangerous escalation with a nuclear power.

Mr Martin said the EU, the US and other western powers were acting “within the limits of being anxious not to provoke a third world war”.

“So there are real limits to the degree of intervention the US and others can undertake here.”

“But up to those limits, everything possible is being done,” Mr Martin said.

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