State unable to measure the Ukrainian crisis

Measuring things – it’s a fundamental human necessity – such as space and time, length, breadth, depth and so on. Otherwise, we haven’t a baldy notion where we are.

It appears, however, that this imperative has completely escaped state authorities, in respect of the precise number of Ukrainian refugees now living in Kerry.

There’s a feeling there must be about 5,000 Ukrainians now taking refuge in this county – many more than the ‘official’ tally.

It’s at times like this you’d be perfectly justified throwing your toys outta the cot! I’m mean, what kind of a way is this to run an airline?

Fact is, this kind of administrative ineptitude denies us the opportunity to calibrate correctly the challenge that the massive influx of Ukrainians presents.

We need houses, school places, transport, sports and community facilities to expand accordingly, job opportunities, social inclusion programmes and much, much more to make our new Ukrainian friends and neighbours welcome.

We owe them that, at least, after all the suffering and loss, dislocation, disruption and unspeakable atrocities they have endured at the hands of Vladimir Putin’s evil empire.

We owe them that as an acknowledgement of their magnificent courage and resilience as a nation, of how they are standing for democracy and freedom in all our interests.

Because one thing is absolutely certain, if Putin suppresses the freedom-loving people of Ukraine, the rest of Europe, including us, are the next people in his crosshairs.

So the state needs to get its act together.

Official figures suggest between 3,400 and 4,717 Ukrainians are now in Kerry as a result of Putin’s illegal war – but, it’s likely that the true figure is above 5,000.

In fact, according to the CSO, Killarney has the joint-highest number of Ukrainians in any one electoral area, which is likely the result of the higher-than-usual number of hotel rooms in the Killarney area, as compared to elsewhere.

Meanwhile, the Department of Education says that almost 1,200 Ukrainian children have enrolled in Kerry schools, with well over 700 of these children in primary education.

That’s a huge addition to our student numbers, calling for an appropriate increase in funding.

And, of course, that’s where our own Education Minister Norma Foley comes in.

She has to ensure that by welcoming tens of thousands of Ukrainians into our communities we don’t end up damaging child welfare, for our own kids or for the new arrivals.

This is a very challenging time for the entire world.

Our struggle to cope with this unexpected, and therefore unplanned, influx of entirely innocent Ukrainian refugees must be regarded as not only a necessary humanitarian gesture, but an urgent and appropriate response in defence of democracy and against totalitarianism and mass murder.