Dublin rejects capping Ukrainian refugee arrivals amid housing crisis claims

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By Mark Armstrong  & Ken Murray
Despite a construction boom housing in short supply in Ireland
Despite a construction boom housing in short supply in Ireland   -   Copyright  Cleared

Dublin has vowed to continue taking in Ukrainian refugees amid claims it was exacerbating Ireland's housing crisis.

Ireland, with a population of five million, has taken in close to 35,000 refugees from the war-torn country. 

Carol Nolan, an independent MP in Ireland's parliament, said the arrivals were putting pressure on housing availability. 

"I am conscious this is a difficult and sensitive issue and we must tread carefully if we are to avoid blame being targeted at those who least deserve it," she said. "However, I am convinced that if we do not learn to find some way of exploring in a grown-up, pragmatic and constructive way the links between unsustainable levels of inward migration or asylum into this state and housing, then we will never find a meaningful solution to an already overwhelming crisis."

Ireland was already suffering a housing shortage before Ukrainians started to arrive.

It is linked to the 2008 financial crash that saw 400,000 people leave the country in subsequent years, the bulk of them carpenters, electricians, plasterers, roofers, tilers and bricklayers. That has seen a slowdown in the number of properties being built. 

The country's population has been steadily growing over the last decade and a recent census revealed it had passed five million for the first time since 1841.

"The government has been very clear, particularly regarding our response to our friends from Ukraine," responded housing minister Darragh O'Brien. 

"We will take in as many Ukrainian citizens fleeing the brutal war foisted upon them through no fault of their own as we must. We will not introduce any caps in that regard. 

"We have the most significant housing plan in the history of the state involving €4 billion a year in exchequer investment. 

"It will deliver 300,000 homes between now and 2030."

Ireland's Taoiseach, or prime minister, Micheál Martin, has also rejected any calls for the number of migrants to be capped, and he spoke of a warm welcome for those fleeing conflict.

“My experience of people across the length and breadth of this country is of a great warmth and [Irish] communities are working with the Ukrainian community to make them feel welcome in Ireland."