Newbridge residents are set to protest the Government’s decision to build modular homes for Ukrainian refugees in the Kildare town.
With tens of thousands of Ukrainians now living in Ireland, the Government has struggled to find suitable accommodation for them all and many were temporarily housed in tents this summer.
30 modular homes are being planned for Newbridge but local residents have reacted with horror at the proposals.
“Nobody has been consulted and it seems to me to be unbelievable that in this day and age without talking to anyone, any planning, any consideration that this should happen and imperil the houses that are there,” Fianna Fáil Cllr Noel Heavey complained.
“I just don’t understand it. To me it’s not the way to do business.”
When asked whether those planning the protest were motivated by racism, Cllr Heavey said, “It’s nothing about being racist or anything else. It’s about ‘Please talk to us.’ That’s what the people are saying and in order to do that they have to protest.”
One local resident, Tom MacDonald, whose own home is close to the fields where the new homes will be built says the prospect fills him with dread:
“I’ve worked with a lot of Ukrainians in England and found them nice people,” he told Newstalk.
“But this is like a grenade for this estate thrown on top of us. No consultation and we’re very concerned and very worried about what’s happening.”
He urged the Government to consider housing Ukrainians somewhere else - “maybe in the Curragh”.
Last week a public meeting was held on the issue and a protest is scheduled for this Saturday. Campaigners say that the issue is one of concern for the town’s green spaces and the fact that they will be built on a floodplain.
Still, the campaign has not been universally welcomed and organisers admit that some of their neighbours have called them racists for what they are doing:
“It is not against Ukrainians because if Irish people were getting them we’d still [be protesting]. This estate is not equipped to deal with 30 more homes,” one of the organisers insisted.
“This town is already overrun with people, it’s overpopulated. So how do they think they can just come and place more houses without adding more facilities for these people?”
Main image: Ukrainian refugees.