Country can continue to rise to the challenge of welcoming Ukrainians, says Taoiseach – The Irish Times


The country can “stretch” further and take in more Ukrainians and others seeking international protection, despite current pressures on the system, the Taoiseach said.

Speaking at the Women in Agriculture conference in Trim, Co Meath on Thursday, MIcheál Martin defended the state’s response to date and said there had been no ‘lack of capacity’ in efforts to welcome those fleeing Ukraine and elsewhere.

“I think it’s an amazing performance…we’ve never had to accommodate so many people in such a short time,” he said, while calling for “balance and perspective” in the debate on the issue.

“I understand there are pressures, there’s no doubt about that given the numbers,” he said, adding: “I think we can expand more, in terms of adaptation, and we’ll work with our European colleagues because it is part of a Europe-wide response to the directive”

He said Russian President Vladimir Putin wants “democracies across Europe to be under pressure, he wants political unrest across Europe”, and confirmed that the cabinet would this week approve measures to change the policies regarding the reception system that have been agreed upon by the leaders of the coalition. In Monday.

Mr Martin was also asked about the meeting between Jonathan Dowdall, convicted of facilitating the murder of David Byrne at the Regency Hotel in 2016, and Eamon Ó Cuiv while the former Sinn Féin adviser was in jail for torturing a man.

He said Mr Ó Cuiv’s motives for meeting with prisoners have “always been very honourable” and that he had been doing so for years with the knowledge of successive justice ministers. He urged people to act in “good faith”. “If he can point people in the right direction in life, that’s positive,” he said.

Asked about the jailing of a prominent LGBT rights activist in Qatar ahead of the FIFA World Cup, Mr Martin said: “There can be no inhibition of people with regard to sexual orientation or for any reason to travel to Qatar and attend the FIFA World Cup, it cannot be and it must be clarified to the authorities there; it will not be tolerated.

On the interest rate hike then anticipated by the European Central Bank, later confirmed, Mr Martin said it would be “very, very difficult for mortgage holders”.

“Obviously we’d like to see the banks absorb as much as possible, but it’s very difficult… inflation has to be brought under control though. We have not yet succeeded in bringing inflation down.

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