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Government Implements Benefit Cuts for Ukrainian Refugees in Ireland; Reduced Social Welfare Rates and 90-Day Stay Introduced

Dublin: A new law set to be enforced in February will see a reduction in social welfare benefits for refugees arriving from Ukraine, aiming to decrease the influx of Ukrainian refugees. The government plans to provide a reduced weekly allowance of €38.80 for newly arrived refugees, down from the previous €232 for job seekers, and limit their stay in government centres to 90 days.

Integration Minister Roderic O’Gorman has outlined proposals to establish six new reception centres for refugees, each capable of accommodating between 450 and 600 people. This initiative is in addition to existing hotel and guesthouse accommodations. The law, approved by a parliamentary committee and the cabinet, awaits consideration by a cabinet subcommittee this week.

Refugees arriving from Ukraine will be directed to special arrival centers, with higher social welfare rates granted to those who live independently after their arrival. The government anticipates the opening of these reception centers, offering meals, laundry services, integration support, and education access for children, with a memo detailing their locations to be presented to the Cabinet within two weeks.

After the initial 90 days, refugees will have various options, as per the new law. They can choose to remain in the government centre, secure alternative accommodation in Ireland, or decide to return home. Concerns have been raised about the 90-day accommodation limit, with critics suggesting it may lead to increased pressure on the rental market as individuals seek housing together.

The minister addressed these concerns by highlighting that all centers would be connected online, facilitating coordination among various Ukrainian refugee centers across the country. O’Gorman emphasised that the reception centres were established in response to the violence in Roscrea. Prime Minister Leo Varadkar clarified that student accommodation, nursing homes, and housing facilities would not be repurposed into international protection accommodation. The plan is expected to be finalised, and all centres operational by the end of the year.

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