Sunday 19 November 2017

Politicians angry at 'appalling lack of consultation' with locals over move

Eugene Murphy is unhappy that town was not consulted Picture: Tom Burke
Eugene Murphy is unhappy that town was not consulted Picture: Tom Burke
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

Roscommon politicians slated as "absolutely appalling" the lack of consultation with locals over the placement of 80 Syrian refugees in a disused hotel.

Politicians of all parties backed Ireland's support for the European refugee relief mission. However, both councillors and TDs in Roscommon were furious over the apparent secrecy surrounding the move.

"There has been an appalling lack of consultation over this. Ballaghaderreen has embraced and welcomed many different nationalities over the years and the town has a large ethnic population," Fianna Fáil's Eugene Murphy TD said. "One local school is made up of 47pc of foreign nationals and they are well integrated into the local community.

"However, my major issue is the complete lack of consultation with the public - I understand that council members were only informed on Thursday by text message and email."

Other Roscommon TDs including Minister Denis Naughten and Michael Fitzmaurice were unavailable for comment.

Labour leader Brendan Howlin TD backed the move.

"We welcome the move and hope it sets the tone for Ireland's approach to the appalling Syrian refugee crisis for the new year," he said.

Fianna Fáil justice spokesperson Jim O'Callaghan urged that local concerns be taken into account.

"The people of Ballaghaderreen need to be given full information about the settlement of the new people in their town," he said.

The Government's policy on the matter is to support Ireland's commitment to play a role in addressing the humanitarian and refugee crisis in Europe.

It said there were 80 submissions from property owners nationwide and this was deemed most suitable. But Fine Gael councillor Liam Callaghan queried the choice.

"Ballaghaderreen is a small town. It has a population of around 2,500 people and it has a very high unemployment rate," he said.

Another Fine Gael politician, Senator Maura Hopkins, said her issue was over the lack of consultation. "Obviously I am concerned that there hasn't been proper engagement within the community," she said.

Longford Fine Gael TD Peter Burke said: "I can understand why people would be frustrated. There should be consultation and there should be support services for these families when they arrive."

Irish Independent

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