Ireland is currently unable to guarantee accommodation for refugees arriving in the country, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said.

His comments came after a government Cabinet committee met to consider a range of measures aimed at easing the huge pressure on Ireland’s asylum-seeker housing system.

Doubling the monthly payment from €400 to €800 for members of the public to offer shared or vacant properties to accommodate Ukrainian refugees, this is one of the measures agreed in principle but still to be signed off by the Coalition.

Mr Varadkar said he expected various measures to be approved in the coming days.

The Fine Gael leader said Ireland had “done very well as a society” in its response to the refugee crisis in Ukraine, with more than 55,000 people fleeing the Russian invasion now in the country.

Mr Varadkar said almost all Ukrainian refugees who arrived in Ireland had been given accommodation, that 12,000 Ukrainian children were in schools, 10,000 were working and 1,000 were studying at Irish universities. However, he said there is a “serious housing shortage”.

Mr Varadkar said Ireland would not abandon international commitments or European solidarity, “but we have to tell people that if you come here, we cannot guarantee you housing at the moment or even for the next few weeks”.

He said a note to the government would be prepared based on the measures discussed by the subcommittee on Monday and “we will be able to formally sign them in the next couple of days”.

Among the measures, he listed the renovation of buildings, the introduction of quick-build housing where possible, and increased amounts of money for families willing to take in people or provide housing.

He said this latest measure was only part of the solution and there would be a renewed appeal for people to offer accommodation.

Mr Varadkar also said Ireland would coordinate what it offers with other countries “so there is not a big difference”.

He said: “This is a far from ideal situation” and that Russian President Vladimir Putin is “using refugees as a weapon of war”.

According to him, 5 million people left Ukraine, approximately 1 percent of them came to Ireland.

Speaking before a cabinet meeting, Mr Varadkar said Ireland had provided accommodation to approximately 70,000 refugees this year, including asylum seekers from other countries.

“We are trying to find additional housing.

“But it’s the scale of the challenge that we’ve never seen anything like in Ireland.”

At a later press conference, Mr Varadkar said he could not put an exact figure on how much additional housing was expected to come on stream in the coming weeks, but said: “There are proposals of several thousand units in the pipeline.”

He said some will require refurbishment and others may not be suitable, “so we will do everything we can to find as much additional accommodation as possible”.

Mr Varadkar also said: “We’re not going to turn anyone away but it’s a very difficult situation… it’s likely to get worse before it gets better.

“The war in Ukraine is intensifying.”