Greater local engagement on refugee resettlement "crucial" - Irish Refugee Council

The IRC has welcomed the announcement that 80 people from Syria will be arriving in Roscommon over the coming weeks

Greater local engagement on refugee resettlement "crucial" - Irish Refugee Council

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The Irish Refugee Council has expressed concern at the lack of consultation and engagement with the community in Ballaghaderreen ahead of the arrival of 80 Syrian refugees in the town.

The restored Abbeyfield Hotel in Ballaghaderreen has been earmarked to temporarily house the group, who are fleeing violence in their homeland.

The hotel will be home to the Syrians for at least six months until more permanent accommodation can be found.

Irish Refugee Council (IRC) chief executive, Nick Henderson welcomed the announcement of the refugees' imminent arrival in Ireland - but warned it is vital that in future, local communities are kept properly informed during the planning process.

“It is heartening to see the overwhelmingly positive reception from people in Ballaghaderreen to this announcement,” said Mr Henderson.

“However, a consistent theme in comments from people living in the community has been the lack of notice or consultation that was given.

“It is crucial that in circumstances such as these local communities are properly informed so that questions can be answered, a welcome prepared and services organised. Unfortunately this doesn’t seem to have happened in this case.”

Special ministerial briefing on Ballaghaderreen

Local senator Frank Feighan said he will be “seeking clarity on a number of issues” regarding the accommodation at a special ministerial briefing this Wednesday.

“There is no absolutely no question at all that people in Ireland, Roscommon and Ballaghaderreen want to help these families who have been tragically displaced by war,” said Senator Feighan.

“It is clear that there has been a lack consultation with local public representatives to establish exactly what the plans are and what resources will be available to adequately cater for these refugees.

“Language support, health services and integration are just some of the issues which need to be addressed in a positive manner and I will be seeking clarity in this regard.”

Ireland's refugee commitment  

The IRC has welcomed Ireland’s commitment to resettle and relocate around 3,200 refugees by the end of this year but warned that it is a significant humanitarian undertaking that “cannot be underestimated.”

“It will only work if transparency and information are embedded in the process and resources given to all stakeholders,” said Mr Henderson.

“This includes resources to the Irish Refugee Protection Programme itself, local authorities and service providers and - very importantly - local volunteer groups and community organisations who will play a crucial role in the coming months.”

He said resources will also need to be provided to ensure there is adequate housing for refugees and “other marginalised and vulnerable groups.”

Mr Henderson called for a “comprehensive integration strategy for Ireland” that includes input from all stakeholders and includes arrangements for “how we manage and use the considerable number of offers of support and services to refugees made by the general public.”