Friday, November 25, 2022

Vivienne Clarke

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe will meet residents of East Wall in Dublin on Friday to discuss their concerns with housing families from Ukraine in a former ESB building.

Amid a shortage of accommodation due to the arrival of tens of thousands of Ukrainian refugees and a surge in international protection applicants, non-residential buildings such as a former ESB block in East Wall have been used to accommodate people coming into the State.

Protests have been held in the area in response to the decision, with locals unhappy about a lack of consultation over the move.

Garda sources said a small number of those involved in the protests have been very closely associated with the far right movement, who they believe are seeking to take advantage of the concerns of some East Wall residents and raise wider concerns about immigration.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Mr Donohoe said it was a “great honour” to represent the East Wall community, but some of the language and claims being used made him uncomfortable.

He said genuine concerns from residents were being hijacked by a small minority.

This was a charged environment that was being made more difficult by a small group of people, he said. “We are in an extraordinary situation.”

Services were under severe strain and Ireland needed to play its role. The ESB facility would continue to be used, he confirmed. “Centres like this will be needed for some time.”

Eurogroup

Separately, Mr Donohoe said he was hopeful that his fellow ministers in the Eurogroup will ratify his appointment as president of the group for a second term on December 5th.

He said that he had been “making the case” for the work he had done in the role, how he had set expectations and worked “very hard” to deliver them.

The three party leaders in Government had been “so supportive” and recognised what a benefit the position was to the country.

Mr Donohoe said Minister for Public Expenditure Michael McGrath was an “exceptional” minister and the two had a close working relationship.

He went on to outline details of the Temporary Business Energy Support Scheme, which is available from this weekend and will be operated by Revenue. It will provide up to €10,000 per business premises per month with payments made by the end of the year.

The scheme recognised the challenges being faced by small and medium businesses. When asked if the scheme would be extended or prolonged if businesses continue to face difficulties, Mr Donohoe said that the impact of the scheme would be examined, but that the Government needed to be confident that any scheme was affordable and sustainable.

On increased road tolls, due on January 1st, Mr Donohoe said the Government would have to consider the consequences and “evaluate carefully” the increases.

When asked if he was “in the Varadkar corner”, that tolls should be deferred or reduced, the Minister replied: “Of course I’m in the Varadkar corner, but we need to look at how it could be done and what the broader consequences might be”.

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