Gabhaim buíochas leis an gCathaoirleach Gníomhach agus leis na Seanadóirí.
Like Senator Ward, I share that pride that we have in the response of the Irish people and the Government. It has been really touching. We attended an event this morning with the Ukrainian ambassador and ambassadors of other countries and it was chilling to hear the testimonies coming out of Ukraine at present. It is an unjustifiable war; an attack on a sovereign state. Our thoughts and prayers are with those fleeing the war and those who are caught up in it because, as the former Minister, Mr. Pat Carey, said this morning, it looks like it could be a protracted war. We will have to continue these supports.
In Ireland, we are responding. I spoke to the Minister of State at the Department of Justice, Deputy James Browne, about driving licences and this morning, Deputy Ó Cathasaigh raised the issue of education in terms of integrating into the education system. There is a whole-of-government response happening. We are having to think on our feet. We are having to act quickly and adapt. We can take great collective pride in the fact that we are responding rapidly to what is a fast-moving and truly tragic situation.
On 4 March 2022, the European Council adopted unanimously the implementing decision regarding the temporary protection directive due to the mass influx of persons fleeing Ukraine as a consequence of this war. This will allow Ukrainian citizens and others fleeing Ukraine to avail of supports throughout the EU. I want to emphasise to the House that people arriving from Ukraine have been granted the status to avail of income supports from the Department of Social Protection under the EU temporary protection directive.
The Minister for Social Protection, Deputy Humphreys, and her officials have an excellent record in reacting quickly and appropriately to emergency situations and this was clear from the way they responded to provide emergency income throughout the pandemic.
The immediate priority for the Department of Social Protection will be the allocation of personal public service numbers, PPSNs, and the provision of immediate financial supports. A fast-track approach in processing these supports will include a simplified decision-making process and quick processing of PPSNs to allow access to public services that will be provided to people arriving here.
People will be eligible for financial support initially under the supplementary welfare allowance scheme. Under the temporary protection directive, Ukrainian citizens and others fleeing the war will satisfy the habitual residence condition, HRC, and the relevant associated means test.
The aim of the Minister, Deputy Humphreys, and that of her Department is to ensure that applications for supplementary welfare are processed as quickly and efficiently as possible to provide immediate financial assistance to these people. The Department of Social Protection will also arrange for payments such as child benefit to be made within a very short period.
The Department of Social Protection is working closely with the Department of Justice, which is responsible for providing such people with letters or certificates confirming that they are covered by the EU directive. From today, officials from both Departments will be based in Dublin Airport to meet people arriving from Ukraine and they will ensure that temporary protection permission letters and PPSNs are allocated, and the appropriate financial supports are provided. The Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth will lead on the provision of accommodation for those arriving in Ireland. All Departments will keep this position under regular review, in particular, to provide for people entering through other airports or ports. As the Senators will be aware, the Department of Social Protection has a network of Intreo offices around the country and they will be used to help people from Ukraine during their stay in this country. It could be a short period. It could be a much longer period. We do not know this yet.
For those people who have already arrived in Ireland, they will be invited into Intreo offices so that they can be provided with a PPSN number and the appropriate financial supports. The Department is putting arrangements in place to provide information in the English, Ukrainian and Russian languages.
I know that the people of Ireland will support these people as they settle into our country, the generosity has already been quite overwhelming, and that they can help to rebuild their lives in our country. It is something that we are good at. It is something we do well constantly in time of crisis. We proved this during the Covid pandemic. Certainly, the Irish people will not be found wanting on this occasion as well.