Mayo County Council votes to cut ties with Department of Integration 'until agreed strategy in place'

It comes as communities with the highest proportion of asylum seekers are to get a special support package
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

19.42 16 Jan 2024

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Mayo County Council votes to c...

Mayo County Council votes to cut ties with Department of Integration 'until agreed strategy in place'

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

19.42 16 Jan 2024

Share this article

Mayo County Council has unanimously passed a motion calling on staff to stop cooperating with the Department of Integration.

The non-binding motion, which passed last night, relates to the housing of asylum seekers in the county.

Mayo is among the counties which have taken in the largest amount of International Protection applicants.


It comes as Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announced that the 10 districts in the country with the highest proportion of asylum seekers are set to get a special support package.

The Mayo Council vote came after scuffles broke out between Gardaí and some protestors in Co Tipperary yesterday, as 17 women and children arrived at Racket Hall Hotel in Roscrea.

Independent Mayo Councillor Michael Kilcoyne told The Hard Shoulder they want to see a plan put in place.

"We are asking that cooperation ceases immediately between Mayo County Council and the Department until such time as an agreed strategy is put in place to properly coordinate the provision of additional services for the communities that are hosting refugees and for the International Protection applicants," he said.

"The services that we're talking about include medical, policing, accommodation, housing, education, transport, training and so on.

"We want a date for the delivery of these services and when they will be rolled out.

"The strategy should also reflect equality in numbers across all national constituencies.

"We are the third-highest county, percentage-wise, in the country for having accepted both refugees from Ukraine and the international refugees."

'Nobody should have to put up with that'

Councillor Kilcoyne said they have been left in a situation where 41 people were on trolleys at the local hospital last week.

"People who come in as refugees they get sick the same as the people that were born in Mayo," he said.

"There was also eight ambulances on the driveway into the hospital, some of which had to wait seven hours to offload their patients into A&E.

"Some of these patients were non-nationals, and they should not be subject to that kind of treatment.

"Nobody, whether they're from Ukraine or whether they're from the other side of the world, should have to put up with that.

"We need these services put in place," he added.

'Significant challenges'

Fianna Fáil Tipperary TD Jackie Cahill was one of those who met with Integration Minister Roderic O'Gorman earlier. He said told the show the Minister recognised their concerns.

"He recognises that Roscrea has significant challenges - for a rural town they have a significant number of Ukrainians and asylum seekers," he said.

"He's aware that this town needs extra resources.

"We put proposals to the Minister today about what we would see would be good for the town and he has taken them to go to both the Tánaiste and the Taoiseach.

"They are discussing them, and I expect Minister O'Gorman to be back to me later this evening or early in the morning.

"I would think we're pushing an open door on this: it's recognised that these towns who have large numbers of foreign nationals in them need resources.

"That's the point we were forcing home with the Minister today," he added.

Earlier Minister O'Gorman told Newstalk it is never acceptable for protesters to block vulnerable people from accessing accommodation centres.

"I imagine it was upsetting for the children coming in, seeing the scuffles, seeing the hostility that took place – I think that's far from ideal," he said.

"Again, I've always been very clear people do have that right to protest, do have a right to disagree with the decisions that the Government has taken on this issue but it has to be remembered that we are dealing with vulnerable people here and I think those disagreements can be put forward in a way that doesn't directly impact on vulnerable people," he added.

Listen back here:

Image: Protesters at the Racket Hall Hotel in Roscrea, Co Tipperary, 15-1-24. Image: PA Images / Alamy

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Councillor Michael Kilcoyne Department Of Integration Jackie Cahill Leo Varadkar Mayo County Council Minister Roderic O'gorman The Hard Shoulder

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