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Tensions rise during debate on services for refugees at council meeting

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Ukrainians fleeing the war in their country.

Ukrainians fleeing the war in their country.

Ukrainians fleeing the war in their country.

kerryman

Cllr John Francis Flynn (FF) has accused the Government of losing ‘the run of themselves’ by making services readily available to Ukrainian refugees while failing to show similar haste when it comes to applications from other refugees.

Speaking at Monday’s full meeting of Kerry County Council (KCC), Cllr Flynn tabled a motion asking KCC to write to the Minister of Employment Affairs & Social Protection to highlight the delay in issuing Personal Public Service (PPS) numbers for those entering the country other than Ukrainians.

He said this was affecting local businesses, particularly the hospitality sector, as it needed to employ people to keep businesses open.

He stated there is now a minimum of eight weeks waiting time for PPS numbers for those arriving here seeking work.

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Cllr Flynn clarified that he has no objection with Ukrainians living here and acknowledged the suffering they are enduring. His issue is with the Government.

“Regarding the issue of PPS, we need a level playing field as this is crippling our economy. These businesses are down already as accommodation is full up and there is no place for tourists to stay,” he said. 

“They are struggling as it is and this (PPS) is just another stumbling block to try and keep their businesses open,” Cllr Flynn added.

But Cllr Deirdre Ferris (SF) said regardless of the failures of the State in delivering services for its own people in the past, using emotive language was akin to a them and us scenario that fed a ‘negative narrative’.

“This should not be used as a stick to beat the supports handed out to the refugees,” she said.

“I think we need to be cognisant of the language used inside in this chamber because without a shadow of a doubt, we, as Irish people, understand the need and the history of what we had to do in order to leave this country and seek support,” Cllr Ferris added.

“We should not in anyway shape or form be trying to make a decision between them and us. The reality of the situation is that we’re doing our duty. Just because the State has not helped their own in the past, should not leave it open to any sort of negative narrative that’s out there,” Cllr Ferris said.

Cllr Niall O’Callaghan (Ind) supported Cllr Flynn’s motion while also stating he had no issue with Ukrainians. He said there was now a minimum 12-week waiting time for a PPS number.

“It’s a serious issue. I don’t want to bring Ukrainians into it or anything else, but this needs to be addressed urgently,” he said.


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