It will cost around €400m to €500m to care for every 10,000 Ukrainians that arrive in Ireland after fleeing the Russian invasion.
The Minister for Public Expenditure Michael McGrath is today telling his Cabinet colleagues that it will cost around €2.5bn to host 100,000 Ukrainian refugees next year.
Speaking on his way into Cabinet this morning, he said the reserve that was set aside to meet costs associated with COVID will now also be used to care for refugees.
"Right thing to do"
“The costs will be high, but they are costs that we have to meet,” he said. “It’s the right thing to do.”
He said the costs differ depending on whether refugees are housed with families, in hotels or in other accommodation.
“It is the case that, for about 10,000 refugees, to cater for all of their needs over the course of a full year, the cost of that is in the order of about €400m to €500m,” he said.
“But we do anticipate that many of the refugees arriving here will want to work - and there are employment opportunities in the Irish economy - and many others will want to return home as soon as it is safe to do so.
“So, any estimates are just that. They are based on certain assumptions. So, there will be significant costs but there is also a high degree of uncertainty. We simply don’t know how many refugees will come here, how long they will stay and how many will want to work in the Irish economy.
“We expect many will so we will manage these costs.”
He said the Government would dip into the COVID contingency fund to support the new arrivals but admitted that some of that money will still be needed for its original purpose.
“We agreed a reserve of about €4m in the budget in October and to date, we have accounted for about €1.5bn of that,2 he said.
“So, there is around €2.5bn of that reserve left which will be available to meet the additional costs associated with COVID but also to meet the costs of looking after the Ukrainian refugees which I know the vast majority of Irish people want us to do.”
He was speaking as a new round of face-to-face talks between Ukraine and Russia gets underway in Turkey.
Ukraine officials said their top priority was to negotiate a ceasefire, but both sides are playing down hopes of a breakthrough.
On The Hard Shoulder yesterday, the former British Ambassador to North Korea John Everard said Russian President Vladimir Putin is now “desperate” for some kind of resolution to the war he can spin as a victory.
With reporting from Andrew Lowth