by Bernie Goldbach in Clonmel
I LISTEN TO BANTER about living in Ireland and during the past three months, the temperature has gone up with Ireland continuing to make generous offers for accommodation to refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine. This week, a heated row erupted between Irish Ministers.  Coincidentally, I was working with colleagues in the Netherlands and in Finland as we questioned the level of refugees that European countries should accept.
If the EU average of five immigrants per 1000 inhabitants was the level accommodated by Ireland, the pressures on social welfare and housing would dop significantly. According to Eurostat, Ireland is accepting 15 immigrants per 1000 inhabitants.  This is significantly higher than the immigration numbers from 2015.
Plans being considered by the Irish cabinet would limit State-provided accommodation for those newly arriving from Ukraine to just 90 days. This change in policy would ease the strain on limited housing for homeless Irish residents but it would have massive knock-on concerns for Ukrainians with school children.
I dove into the question about EU immigration standards while completing a Short Advanced Programme with RUN-EU. Some of my research suggests that the "temporary protection directive" which allows Ukrainians rights within the EU does not entitle those refugees to housing or homeless services through the Irish Department of Housing. 
Viewing this challenge from the outside, it appears to me that the Irish government has not reformed the system for accommodating refugees, asylum seekers, and economic migrants. If left untreated, the current system will increase the number of homeless people left on the streets. The Irish Government has not moved forward with plans to establish a half dozen major centres for Ukrainians around the country. And there has been no progress towards gradually ending the use of hotels to house Ukrainians. It seems there is no political will to tell refugees that they need to leave temporary centres after 90 days.
There are also major issues with the amount of social welfare supports provided by the Irish government. Chatter inside several Facebook and Reddit threads suggests the benevolence of Ireland's social welfare system has become a magnet for people applying for refugee or asylum status in Ireland.
- Jack Horgan Jones, "Heated’ Cabinet row breaks out over proposed new approach to accommodating refugees fleeing Ukraine" in The Irish Times. October 24, 2023.
- Eurostat https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php?title=Migration_and_migrant_population_statistic
- Georgiana Sandu, (2022). “Immigration policy Fact Sheets on the European Union”, Available at: www.europarl.europa.eu/factsheets/en/sheet/152/immigration-policy.
- Henley, J (2018) “EU Migration Deal: What Was Agreed and Will it Work”, The Guardian, available at EU migration deal: what was agreed and will it work? | European Union | The Guardian
[Bernie Goldbach teaches digital transformation on the Clonmel Digital Campus for the Technological University of the Shannon.]