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Thursday 21 November 2019

Taoiseach says direct provision 'better than using tents'

‘Come forward’: Leo Varadkar called for information on attack on TD’s car. Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins
‘Come forward’: Leo Varadkar called for information on attack on TD’s car. Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Direct provision centres are necessary if we want to avoid having asylum seekers living in tents, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said.

While defending the use of provision centres, the Taoiseach admitted his Government needs to work more closely with communities before housing asylum seekers.

He met last night with Garda Commissioner Drew Harris to discuss an arson attack on a car at the home of a Sinn Féin TD earlier this week.

One line of investigation is that Sligo-Leitrim representative Martin Kenny was targeted because he supported a proposal to accommodate 130 asylum seekers in the town of Ballinamore, Co Leitrim.

The people of the town have been protesting against the proposed re-settlement on the grounds it is disproportionate to the town's population and infrastructure.

Mr Varadkar urged people "not to be afraid to come forward" with information about the attack.

And he said many of the fears felt by communities selected for asylum seekers are unfounded.

"I don't want to end up in a situation like they have in France or Italy or Greece, where they are accommodating people in tents. I really want to avoid that and that's why we need to explain to people better why direct provision is the best solution for the moment," he said.

The Taoiseach said the Department of Justice is examining "all the time how we can make improvements" to direct provision.

"We do need to examine how we consult with communities and I can understand concerns that communities have.

"I'm a constituency TD, too. If somebody wants to build 50 apartments in my constituency, the residents want to know what the building's going to look like and who's going to be living there," Mr Varadkar said.

He said the same openness is needed in towns like Ballinamore where plans for direct provision housing have been paused. But the Taoiseach said there are 38 direct provision centres dotted around the country already.

Irish Independent

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