"Government must Establish a Refugee Taskforce and Engage with Civic and Religious Leaders" - Tóibín
The Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín TD has called for the establishment of an emergency taskforce to handle the expected influx of Ukrainian refugees and their placement with host families or in private dwellings.
Speaking today, Deputy Tóibín said:
"Up until now we have had a government which is all talk when it comes to the issue of accepting refugees from The Ukraine. We have the Taoiseach going on international television programs talking about how great a job he is doing, and numerous government ministers pulling figures from thin air when asked how many refugees Ireland will take. Meanwhile little work is being done behind the scenes. The process of identifying families willing to take refugees has been outsourced to charities - in particular to The Irish Red Cross. It is unfair for the government to completely outsource this work - there are huge concerns and complexities in this process and my office has been inundated with people saying they signed up through the portal but have heard nothing back".
Deputy Tóibín continued: "Today we see shocking media reports of landlords offering their homes to refugees in exchange for sex. This is outrageous. We need an immediate high level taskforce to monitor the developing situation. Migrant Rights groups, Local Authorities housing departments' representatives, officials from the Department of Children and Equality, Housing and Justice should also sit on this taskforce along with the Irish Red Cross and representatives of the Church or churches. We cannot persist with a situation where everything is outsourced to the Red Cross while government Ministers are busy giving media interviews".
"We need commitments from the government that none of these refugees will fall into homelessness in the State, and that none will be placed in already-crowded and inhumane Direct Provision centres. There are lots of questions that need to be addressed - if someone agrees to take refugees into their home but then changes their mind after the first month then what happens? Who is accountable? What checks and balances are in place to ensure that no refugee is abused or exploited while in this country? Aontú has been working with community groups and indeed with parish priests around the country in our efforts to accommodate and assist refugees. There are numerous vacant properties in terms of old boarding schools and convents which could be utilised. Aontú therefore calls on the government to engage with Civic and religious or church leaders on this issue also. Talking about taking tens of thousands of refugees with little preparatory work will hurt refugees most of all. It is a mammoth task, and the government needs to take it seriously - it is a hugely complex undertaking, and one which warrants the immediate establishment of a high level interdepartmental taskforce. Nobody who comes to our country from a war-zone should be left exposed, abandoned or exploited", concluded Tóibín.