The Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee, TD, has paid tribute to the teams working in Dublin Airport, who have supported more than 26,000 people arriving from Ukraine since the war began.
Marking the transfer of the operation of the ‘one-stop-shop’ reception facility from Dublin Airport to Citywest from Monday, 23 May, Minister McEntee said staff across government working at the facility had responded with dedication, compassion, and care for those fleeing the war in the Ukraine.
“When I lifted the visa restrictions for Ukrainian nationals on 25 February in response to the war, we had no idea how many people might seek safety and shelter in Ireland. Almost overnight, my Border Management Team in Dublin Airport became the State’s first responders to the hundreds of people arriving every day in the first humanitarian crisis on European soil since World War II.
“The BMU staff responded with their characteristic humanity, compassion and ‘can do’ attitude, providing food, toiletries, clothing and other essential items to those arriving in the earliest days while the State rapidly readied our national response.
“Just five days after the EU activated the Temporary Protection Directive for the first time in its history on 4 March, the first temporary protection permission letters were issued by staff from my Department at the ‘one-stop-shop’ reception facility in Dublin Airport. Over 27,000 permissions have since been processed during the 75 days the facility was open.
“The facility itself, kindly provided to us by the DAA, was prepared by staff from across the Immigration Service of my Department in a matter of days in a sensitive and thoughtful way, including a colourful playroom full of toys for the children, and quiet spaces for the adults weary after a long and traumatic journey.
“Staff from across every area and every grade of my Department volunteered for shifts at the facility – open from 8:00 am till the arrival of the last flight in the early hours of the next morning. Everyone agrees that it has been a profoundly moving and humbling experience to be part of; a practical demonstration of solidarity in a small way with all that the Ukrainian people are suffering.”
The Department of Justice has been the lead agency in the one stop shop building, ably supported by colleagues from the Departments of Social Protection; Agriculture; and Children, and the HSE; Revenue Commissioners; voluntary ambulance services; the International Organisation for Migration; and volunteers from the Ukrainian community in Ireland.
The truly collaborative effort has showcased the best of our public services, our community and voluntary sector and the private sector who have donated thousands of toys, items of clothing, sim cards and phone credit, and other supplies.
Minister McEntee added:
“While the ‘one-stop-shop’ facility has now moved its operations to the larger facility in Citywest, our support for people arriving from Ukraine remains. The BMU staff continue to welcome and immigrate new arrivals daily at Dublin Airport.
“Other staff from my Department are already onsite in Citywest to ensure that people receive their temporary protection permissions as quickly as possible. This is in addition to staff already operating from Rosslare Europort on sailing days and at the Ukraine Support Centres in Cork Street in Dublin and in Limerick City.
“Similar efforts are also underway at all other ports of entry to the State and I want to acknowledge the teams involved in ongoing humanitarian operations there, including the Garda National Immigration Bureau.”