A GOVERNMENT minister has lauded the reception provided by community groups and organisations to help the integration of an estimated 800 Ukrainian refugees in North Clare.
Speaking outside the Lisdoonvarna Pavilion, Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys pointed out the influx of Ukrainian refugees from their war-torn country had doubled the population of Lisdoonvarna.
The Fine Gael Minister said there has been a “wonderful effort” by numerous community groups in North Clare, which has ensured Ukrainian refugees have been provided with a very warm welcome as they settle into their new surroundings.
“There has been a wonderful effort across the board in Lisdoonvarna and I think it is very important to recognise that.
“We are going to try and help them find jobs and match them with employers. There are a lot of job offers coming in. But we are not rushing anyone into work, we want to get them settled into this country first.”
Asked would the state be forced to accommodate Ukrainian refugees in warehouses once all available premises are taken up, the minister said the government is looking at all options to try and provide the best possible accommodation to refugees.
“The Ukrainian refugees who came to Lisdoonvarna have said the accommodation they are receiving is way beyond what they would have expected. We want to help them to live in the community. We want to help them live as normal lives as possible while they are here in Ireland.
“We are working through all our networks to resolve the many challenges we will face dealing with this issue. We want to help
By this weekend, Minister Humphreys predicted up to 20,000 PPS numbers would be issued to Ukrainian refugees thanks to the provision of these social security numbers at reception centres at ports when they arrive.
She explained Ukrainian refugees are then transitioned on to whatever social welfare payments they are entitled to, in addition to various supports for women and children.
Minister Humphreys also acknowledged the political efforts of Deputy Joe Carey, Senator Martin Conway and Councillor Joe Garrihy addressing some of the issues that have emerged for Ukrainian refugees in recent weeks.
On Thursday morning, Minister Humphreys opened the new River Fergus Walk and Cycleway at Clareabbey.
On a tour of locations in North Clare, she met Ukrainian refugees in the Lisdoonvarna pavilion before travelling to Ennistymon where she opened the new walking trail in the town.
Head of Information Systems, Urban McMahon gave the minister a guided tour of the Ennistymon Digital Hub and Connected Hubs extension.