State will consider helping Ukrainian refugee hosts with cost of doing so – Donohoe

Economic uncertainty likely to be present for some time, says Minister for Finance

The Government will consider helping people who host Ukrainian refugees with the cost of doing so, Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe has said.

Speaking on Monday at TU Dublin in Grangegorman, Mr Donohoe said he anticipates having to make “very quick and very efficient” use of the offers that people have made to host people in their homes.

“And of course, we will at that point consider what would be the best way to do it and how we can help with some of the costs that may be involved in this,” he said.

The British government is paying people who give up space in their homes £350 a month if they can offer refugees a spare room or property for a minimum period of six months. On Sunday, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar indicated that such a payment wasn't likely.


The Government, Mr Donohoe said, is looking at the overall cost to the exchequer of providing emergency supports to refugees fleeing the war – but the added that this would not be the determining factor in the State’s response.

“As important as the issue of costs are, there are far more important principles at stake here … regarding people who are fleeing a war. They were living in a completely normal environment only a few weeks ago, with their families in universities like this, going to work normally, and suddenly they have been plunged into chaos.”

He also indicated that while he remained confident that the Irish economy would be able to overcome the challenge of the volatility and disturbance brought about by the invasion of Ukraine, uncertainty would be a feature for some time.

“We had just overcome what we thought was an extraordinary challenge in relation to the very dark days of the pandemic, and while the disease is still with us, I know many were hoping that we’d be in a position that we could look forward to a number of years in a more normal environment. We now know that’s not to be the case,” he said.

‘Open and honest’

However, he indicated that the Government was not considering further interventions to help with the cost of living now – and that the exchequer would face other demands, saying the Government had to be “open and honest” about what it could do.

“We will not be able to meet every other need that we want to respond back to because the need to respond back to the humanitarian need we are going to face will be so great,” he said.

Mr Donohoe was attending the sod-turning ceremony for a new academic hub on the Grangegorman campus of TU Dublin, in his Dublin central constituency, alongside Minister for Higher and Further Education Simon Harris. Mr Harris said he was working with counterparts in Europe on ways to continue education for Ukrainian students seeking refuge from the violence, and that the Erasmus study-abroad programme was being adapted in this way.

“This is quite a clever way of using an existing structure that we have in place through Erasmus, tweaking it and amending it so that Ukrainian students can come and study here.” He said that he expects private student accommodation will “come into the mix” as an option. Meanwhile, university-owned accommodation had already been offered up outside of term-time.

“The policy objective here is to make sure that in the middle of the biggest humanitarian crisis we’ve ever lived through that there aren’t vacant beds when college is done and I really want to thank our universities for the leadership they have shown in saying that when the students aren’t there we’ll make these facilities available,” he said.

Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times