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Hotels are ‘obvious option’ to house up to 20,000 refugees here amid concern for four Irish babies in Ukraine

Irish families will open homes to refugees after Russian invasion, says Coveney


Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney. Picture by Gareth Chaney

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney. Picture by Gareth Chaney

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney. Picture by Gareth Chaney

Hotels may be used for Ukrainian refugees on a short-term basis and county councils will have a role, housing as many as 20,000 people.

Government officials are looking at a range of options as to how refugees may be accommodated, with one well-placed source saying hotels are the “obvious” option.

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney said some families would open their homes to refugees, after indicating up to 20,000 may be taken in.

The Department of the Taoiseach has put together a group of officials across the Departments of Children, Justice, Social Protection and Health to work on a response to the Ukrainian crisis.

Refugees will be accommodated here on arrival on a short-term basis, with longer-term accommodation put in place later on.

It comes as Tánaiste Leo Varadkar revealed there are four Irish babies – born to surrogate mothers for Irish couples – currently in maternity hospitals in Kyiv.

Up to 80 Irish citizens are still in Ukraine, including these four babies, with the Government insisting it needs to keep lines of communication open with Russia, and not expel Russia’s ambassador to Ireland, in order to protect them.

“There are four Irish babies in Ukraine at the moment in a maternity hospital, and Kyiv and that hospital could be under Russian occupation within weeks and we need to be able to talk to the Russians.” Mr Varadkar told RTÉ’s News at One.

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney said: “We have a number of newborn babies in maternity hospitals in Kyiv.

“They are, as far as I’m concerned, Irish citizens. They are on their own in maternity hospitals in a city that is under attack right now and so cases that are complex like that need diplomatic channels to be open to be able to ensure we can protect the interests of our citizens even if they are newborn children in hospitals in a war zone.”

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Irish couples having babies through surrogacy in Ukraine have urged the Government not to expel the Russian ambassador to Ireland, Yuriy Filatov, in the event the Government needs to call on Russia’s assistance to evacuate the Irish babies.

Meanwhile, some sources expect many refugees will return to Ukraine after the war with Russia is over.

A Government spokesperson said the Department of Children will be responsible for securing refugee accommodation here in the “short term”.

The European Union is expected to put in place a temporary protection directive, which will mean Ukrainian people can move through the EU as if they were EU citizens.

While those with family connections will live with friends or relatives, those without any connections may be accommodated in hotels.

Under the EU directive, Ukrainians will be able to stay here for at least one year and this may be extended to three years.

They will be able to work and study here and not go into direct provision.

It is expected Ireland will know exactly how many refugees it is expected to accommodate after a justice and home affairs meeting takes place at EU level tomorrow.

It is understood the initial figure will be 6,000, according to a briefing Cabinet ministers received yesterday.

Mr Filatov was told by the top civil servant in the Department of Foreign Affairs that his country’s invasion of Ukraine was an assault on common humanity, the Cabinet was told.

Joe Hackett, the secretary general of the Department, told Mr Filatov last Friday that Ireland views the invasion of Ukraine as “an assault on the very principles of the United Nations Charter, the rules-based international order and our common humanity”, according to a confidential briefing given to ministers.

Mr Filatov was summoned to Iveagh House, the Department of Foreign Affairs headquarters in Dublin, twice in three days last week where he was given a diplomatic dressing down by the top officials.

However, despite mounting pressure from Coalition TDs, the Government has said it will not be expelling Mr Filatov. A spokesperson for Mr Coveney declined to be drawn on if and when Mr Coveney would speak with Mr Filatov.

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