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Thursday 14 November 2019

'We should share with those less fortunate' - archbishop

Action: A vigil protest has been in place at the Achill Head Hotel for a number of days. Photo: Conor McKeown
Action: A vigil protest has been in place at the Achill Head Hotel for a number of days. Photo: Conor McKeown

Fiona Dillon and Kevin Doyle

Archbishop Michael Neary has urged that full and transparent consultation should take place with local people in Achill amid ongoing controversy over the arrival of a group of asylum seekers.

He said that it is important that effective advance planning be undertaken by the State, and added: "Such preparations should go some way to allay fears and misunderstandings while, at the same time, enabling this human-centred initiative to work sustainably for the whole community."

The Department of Justice postponed the arrival of 13 female asylum seekers at the Achill Head Hotel, Co Mayo, following protests last week, but a Government source said: "It is now a matter of when and not if the asylum seekers go to Achill."

The number of asylum seekers will eventually grow to 38 for a three-month stay sanctioned by the department under the plans.

In his statement, the Archbishop of Tuam said: "Ireland is moving from an era of austerity and recession to a more prosperous period in our economic cycle. As Christians we are morally obliged to welcome the stranger and, in the context of our improved circumstances, we have a responsibility to share with those who are less fortunate than ourselves."

Fianna Fáil's spokesperson on integration Fiona O'Loughlin said yesterday that direct provision was "far from perfect" but needed to work for now. She said Ireland had international obligations but the Government must also consult with communities.

"You are creating a problem before it even starts. As a country we have to be better than that. There are far better ways of approaching the whole thing," the Kildare TD told the Irish Independent. Her own county has three direct provision centres and Ms O'Loughlin said once people settled in there were no issues with the local community.

A statement from the Department of Justice said it would "continue to work with the wider local community to address any concerns regarding facilities or services". It said that available beds had been booked in low season.

Irish Independent

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