The Government is aiming to have a system in place by July to give households accommodating people from Ukraine a recognition payment.

The €400 monthly payment will be administered by the Department of Social Protection and the money will be backdated.

It will be contingent on people agreeing to house those fleeing Ukraine for at least six months.

However, any homeowner found to have made false declarations will be subject to Social Protection penalties.

Minster for Children and Integration Roderic O'Gorman had earlier said the system would be in place by the end of this month, but the department this evening clarified it would be July.

31,000 people have now arrived in Ireland after fleeing the war in Ukraine and around 21,000 have sought accommodation from State services, Minster O'Gorman said.

Appearing before an Oireachtas Committee on Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Mr O'Gorman said the country has never received such an influx of refugees as was seen over the past three months.

So far, the department has contracted around 16,5000 beds in hotels, guesthouses, B&Bs, hostels, commercial self-catering accommodation and certain other repurposed settings.

There have been over 25,000 pledges of accommodation to the Irish Red Cross, which has resulted in 3,471 assumed vacant properties and 6,700 assumed shared properties.

However, to date just over 859 people have been placed in 311 properties nationwide, with pledges activated privately also.

Minister O'Gorman told the committee that the process of allocating pledged accommodation has been slower than he would have liked, however he said that it had to be done right.

Approximately 1,300 invitations to host Ukrainians have been sent to households that have pledged accommodation.

Appearing before the Oireachtas Committee on Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, the Irish Red Cross acknowledged that the process of matching refugees with households was slow because they had to get it right.

Liam O'Dwyer, Secretary General of the Irish Red Cross, said that some people have just reached the age of 18 and therefore particular care had to be taken to place them with the right household.

Over forty thousand calls have been made to households so far in response to the over 25,000 pledges of accommodation.

To date the IRC has raised €33 million from public donations. Of this, €10 million is being held to assist Ukrainians with rebuilding their lives if a peace process takes hold.

Refugees being sent to beauty spots - FF TD

Meanwhile a Fianna Fáil TD has said that Ukrainian refugees cannot be "funnelled through Irish beauty spots".

Cathal Crowe, who represents Clare, said his county was struggling to provide all the necessary services to Ukrainian refugees.

Mr Crowe, alongside Social Democrats TD Holly Cairns, asked Mr O'Gorman why Ukrainians had not, unlike thousands of other refugees arriving into Ireland, been forced into the direct provision system.

Mr Crowe said that 2% of the population in Co Clare is now Ukrainian.

"If you and I were fleeing a war situation in Ireland, and if we had to go to Ukraine, I don't think I'd want to be put up in a beauty spot on a green hillside or in a place where beautiful waves crash up against the shore.

"I would want to be put in a place that ticks more than the roof over my head box, a place that could meet my family's educational, transport, health needs.

"That isn't the strategy at the moment.

"They are being sent to scenic beauty spots. Which is fine in the month of May 2022, but will be a different story from the autumn?

"This cannot all be funnelled through Ireland's beauty spots and seasonal hotels.

"No-one is looking at the ancillary services that these people require, the pastoral care, the support.

"It won't haunt us now but it will haunt us in the months ahead. We need a more holistic, nationwide response."

Mr O'Gorman, who said in his opening statement to the committee that parts of the Government response had been "imperfect", said that the EU temporary protection directive was the reason for the different treatment received by Ukrainians compared with other refugees.

"That may be a convincing or an unconvincing reason, but that is the reason.

"There is a very substantial number of Ukrainians in Clare.

"I understand its impact on very small towns and villages," he told Mr Crowe, as he stressed that refugees were being housed across the country.

"We are in a European war right now. This is not normality in any context.

"One deputy said that we did not expect to be dealing with this last year. We didn't expect this on 14 February this year.

"Our responses had to be an emergency one."

Additional reporting: Tommy Meskill, Press Association