17,000 Ukrainians now in full-time employment in Ireland, TDs told

Figure described as an ‘extraordinarily high’ rate given the proportion of refugees that are women with childcare needs

Some 17,000 Ukrainian people are now in full-time employment in Ireland, an “extraordinarily high” rate given the proportion of refugees that are women with childcare needs, TDs have been told.

Department of Social Protection secretary general John McKeon told the Dáil’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that around 30 per cent of Ukrainian adults in Ireland are in employment.

He also told the meeting that the Department’s case officers would say Ukrainian refugees are “more eager to engage [with employment support services] than perhaps some of the other people that we would deal with.”

Mr McKeon told said that the Department’s Covid-19 related work has abated but it continues to “devote significant energy, time and resources in response to the Ukrainian crisis and inflationary pressures.”


Around 103,000 personal public service numbers (PPSNs) have been issued to Ukrainian people since the Russian invasion of their home country in 2022 with an estimated 80,000 of the refugees believed to still be in Ireland.

Around a quarter of this number are children, with the Department paying child benefit for 21,000 children.

The PAC was told that most of the welfare payments to Ukrainian refugees must be collected in person at post offices.

Total expenditure to date on welfare supports and services to Ukrainian refugees is estimated at €650 million.

The Government has signed off on plans to significantly reduce social welfare payments for future arrivals from Ukraine who are allocated state-provided, serviced accommodation as part of the response to the shortage of housing for refugees

Adult Ukrainians are offered employment support service and around 35,000 are attending, Mr McKeon said.

A further 8,000 referred to programmes such as Community Employment, Back to Education and Tús.

Mr McKeon said that Revenue figures suggest are 24,000 employments among Ukrainian people including part-time jobs.

He said the number in full-time employment is 17,000.

Fine Gael TD Colm Burke said he had heard of cases of people who are not inclined to take up employment due to the benefits they are receiving.

Mr McKeon said: “That’s not our experience I have to say.”

He said three quarters of the refugees are women and children adding: “You’ve got women living in hotel rooms in the west of Ireland, three to a room, a woman and two children, who has child care responsibilities and so on.

“The employment rate is about 30 per cent. That’s an extraordinarily high employment rate for people in that situation.”

The PAC was told that 5,500 Ukrainians are working in the hospitality sector, just under 3,000 in retail, 2,000 in manufacturing, just over 1,500 in support sectors and 1,000 in construction.

Mr McKeon said there are around 100 Ukrainians working in the Department of Social Protection “and we’re delighted to have them” with 36 more moving from there to permanent jobs elsewhere in the Civil Service.

He added: “I suspect the construction firms that have the 1,000 Ukrainians are delighted to have the construction staff as would be the [more than] 5,000 in hospitality.”

He said there was “no evidence” for the scenario Mr Burke described adding “if I was to say anything our own case officers would say they’re more eager to engage than perhaps some of the other people that we would deal with.”

Separately Mr McKeon said some €2.4 billion has been spent on the increased welfare payments and one-off supports introduced by Government to ease the cost-of-living crisis caused by inflation.

He said (Economic and Social Research Institute) ESRI research has shown the measures have “substantially” cushioned people on low incomes form the effects of inflation.

He added: “While there are differing views on the appropriate balance between base-rate increases and one-off payments the approach taken to date has increased incomes of people reliant on welfare by more than an inflation-adjusted amount with a significant proportion of the increase timed to coincide with he winter/spring period when cost pressures are highest.”

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Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn is a Political Correspondent at The Irish Times