Ireland mulling cuts in supports for asylum seekers, Ukrainian refugees

FILE PHOTO: IPAS accommodation site provided to asylum seekers that were moved from Dublin City, in Citywest

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Ireland will this week consider making cuts to state support for asylum seekers and refugees, including those who arrived from Ukraine, in a bid to bring the system more in line with other European countries, Prime Minister Simon Harris said on Monday.

Just over 100,000 Ukrainians have fled to Ireland since Russia's invasion in February 2022, while the number of asylum seekers from the rest of the world almost trebled from pre-pandemic levels to more than 13,000 in 2022 and 2023. So far this year, the number has jumped to 7,700.

That has made immigration a much bigger political issue in the country of 5.3 million people, which is struggling to house refugees in the middle of a housing supply crisis.

"It certainly is my intention that we will see changes in a number of areas that do inject what I think Irish people believe has been lacking, which is that common sense approach," Harris told Newstalk radio ahead of Tuesday's cabinet meeting.

"We need to look at welfare consistency. We need to look at the contribution that people who have (refugee) status should make to accommodation. We need to look at making sure that anybody at work is working legally, that there are more workplace inspections."

Harris said specifically that there should be a consistency of approach to people who come from Ukraine and that the support should not be based on when they arrived.

Ireland previously slashed the allowance for Ukrainian refugees using state accommodation who arrived after mid-March this year to 38.80 euros ($41.84) per week from 220 euros and put a 90-day limit on the time they can remain housed by the state.

The changes did not apply to the 70,000 Ukrainians who were already in some form of state accommodation.

($1 = 0.9273 euros)

(Reporting by Padraic Halpin; Editing by Sharon Singleton)