Roscommon TD warns of 'major problems' with refugee housing in Ballaghaderreen

Michael Fitzmaurice said the proposed area has "the worst ambulance services in the country"

Roscommon TD warns of 'major problems' with refugee housing in Ballaghaderreen

Image: Richard Chambers

Independent TD for Roscommon Michael Fitzmaurice is warning of "major problems" with the proposed relocation of 80 refugees to Ballaghaderreen.

While stressing that the people of Ballaghaderreen and beyond "have no problem with bringing refugees into this country", Mr Fitzmaurice said the move won't be successful due to lack of services.

"There is no good putting people somewhere and not having the in-built services right around them", he said speaking on Newstalk Breakfast. "Unless the proper services are put in place, unfortunately it wouldn't be successful.

He criticised the area as having the worst ambulance service in Roscommon, and cited a need for adequate resources in the areas of education and mental health "to make it work".

"These people have endured a lot of suffering ... The least that you need to do is make sure that you have covered all of these bases."

Earlier this week, it was announced that the restored Abbeyfield Hotel building in Ballaghaderreen will play host to the group, who are mainly fleeing violence in Syria.

They will stay for the next two years on the instruction of the Department of Justice.

Councillors in Roscommon met over the weekend to discuss the move.

Local Fine Gael Councillor, Liam Callaghan, suggests the town is a strange choice for relocation.

Speaking to Newstalk Breakfast, he explained: "Ballaghadereen is a small town with a population of approximately 2,500 people.

"It has high unemployment figures, so I suppose taking in any figure of people that would be of refugee status will further place problems on the town and area."

He added: "I wouldn't think there's any negativity, but I think it's landed as a shock that people have to prepare - sure, getting ready for any event you have to make preparations."