Visas for relatives of Irish citizens fleeing Ukraine ‘will be processed expeditiously’

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The Department of Justice said it would ensure visas for family members of Irish citizens fleeing Ukraine were processed quickly.

Ireland does not have a visa waiver agreement with Ukraine like most EU countries, but a spokesman for Justice Minister Helen McEntee said requests from those who seek to leave the country would be dealt with expeditiously.

“The Ministry of Justice is reviewing its administrative arrangements to ensure it can help Irish citizens and their family members in Ukraine quickly and flexibly,” the spokesperson said.

“While Ukrainian nationals are not visa exempt to enter Ireland, given the current circumstances all visa applications will be processed as quickly and humanely as possible.

“This includes family applications for non-EEA family members of Irish citizens, which will be dealt with quickly.

Irish officials on the ground in Kyiv are providing support to citizens as fears intensified over the weekend over a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine.

On Saturday, the Foreign Office updated its guidelines for Irish citizens in Ukraine, advising them to leave immediately. The department said about 50 Irish citizens have registered with their embassy in Kyiv.

Although the advice is to leave, a number have said they intend to stay in the country for the time being.

Speaking to RTÉ This week programme, photographer Bradley Stafford, from Wexford, said he received an email from the embassy telling him about the new advice.

“This is my house,” he said. “It’s my wife’s house. She has her grandparents here, who wouldn’t be able to leave.

Now, if that was, God forbid, kick-off, then we would have to re-evaluate our options.

In the same programme, Higher Education Minister Simon Harris said the Irish government was monitoring the situation in Ukraine on an “hourly basis” and did not believe war was inevitable.

“If you see what’s happening right now in a number of European countries and even the United States, the advice seems to be pretty consistent now on how important it is for people to leave Ukraine, or even if you’re considering you go to Ukraine not to continue in relation to this, ”said Mr. Harris.

“We have a duty of care to the citizens of Ireland to pass on the best advice and thoughts as we receive it.”

The minister said diplomacy should remain the main effort of countries at present in a bid to avoid further escalation.

“Particularly worrying” question of surrogacy

Additionally, a small number of Irish parents are currently waiting for babies to be born to surrogate mothers in Ukraine.

Mr Harris said: “This is an extremely sensitive and difficult issue. I have seen a figure of around 14 babies due in a very short period of time.

“What we do is engage individually at the foreign affairs level with these families.”

The Foreign Office said it has engaged directly with all those who need to travel to Ukraine for surrogacy purposes and will continue to provide advice to those affected.

Fine Gael Senator Mary Seery-Kearney said the development was “particularly worrying” for expectant parents whose babies are due in the days and weeks to come.

Two clinics supporting surrogacy had contingency plans in place to support parents in this situation, she said.

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