In accordance with the Temporary Protection Directive implemented in March 2022, people fleeing the war in Ukraine have been granted status to avail of the supports and services provided by my Department.
In engaging with people arriving from Ukraine, the Department's initial priority is the allocation of PPSNs and the provision of immediate financial supports. A fast-track approach in processing these supports includes a simplified decision-making process and quick processing of PPSNs to allow access to public services and income supports.
To allow payments to be made as quickly as possible, all applications for income support were initially set up to be paid in cash at post offices. Cash payments at post offices are one of the two main payment method options provided by my Department. People can also be paid directly into their account in either a bank, in An Post or in a credit union. The Department’s policy is, where possible, to offer people the choice of being paid in cash at the post office or directly into an account in a financial institution of their choosing.
Given the temporary and transient nature of accommodation for many of the people fleeing the war in Ukraine, it has proven to be more practical for many Temporary Protection recipients to be paid directly into an account by Electronic Fund Transfer (EFT).
My Department is working alongside other relevant Government Departments and Bodies, as well as with An Post and the Banking Payments Federation of Ireland (BPFI), in order to assist Ukrainians in obtaining payments and setting up accounts in financial institutions.
It would not be appropriate for my Department to give preferential treatment to one financial institution over another. By restricting payments to accounts in An Post, my Department would be in breach of EU Regulation 260/2012 (the ‘SEPA’ Regulation).
This regulation forbids restricting payments to a specific financial institution within the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA). Therefore, it is not possible to favour An Post over any other financial institution licenced by the Central Bank of Ireland nor indeed to favour any Irish institution over one in another European Union member state or within the wider SEPA zone.
In Ireland, the Central Bank is the competent authority to ensure compliance with Regulation 260/2012. This regulation came into effect in Ireland in 2014. As the competent authority, the Central Bank of Ireland has the power to impose penalties on any Government Department for non-compliance with the Regulation.
My Department will continue to provide financial support to those people arriving from Ukraine, under the EU’s Temporary Protection Directive and in compliance with the SEPA Regulation.
I trust this clarifies matters for the Deputy.