Killarney is at “breaking point” because of the large number of refugees and asylum seekers it has taken in, the town mayor has claimed.
Over 50,000 Ukrainians have arrived in Ireland since their nation was invaded and the Government has taken to renting out hotel rooms for them.
As a popular tourist destination, the Kerry town has a large number of hotels but locals are not used to international visitors staying for so long.
“I suppose it’s really at breaking point,” Mayor Niall Kelleher told Newstalk Breakfast.
“This is something that we’ve stressed a number of weeks ago in relation to the services and the amount of people that were being accommodated in Killarney.
“Let me stress that Killarney, like any other part of the country, understands it needs to play its part in relation to those people that are fleeing war; however, it has to be a balanced response.
"We find that because Killarney had the beds, that Killarney was seen as an area that could take larger numbers.”
Mr Kelleher said local officials have also received complaints of anti-social behaviour - such as wolf whistling - in recent weeks.
“The mood and public cohesion in relation to the response has very much changed in the last number of weeks, effectively,” he said.
“I’m calling on the State to resource the asylum seeker process and ensure that the applicants that are seeking asylum to the country are dealt with in a speedy fashion and either given protection or dealt with through the system and deported back to their home countries.”
Not everyone in Killarney is concerned by the presence of so many refugees and asylum seekers.
Last month, when the Government tried to move 135 Ukrainians from the town to Mayo at short notice, there was an outcry and the decision was swiftly reversed.
Education Minister and local TD Norma Foley said the U-turn was “the right decision” because the Ukrainians had settled in well.
“It is hugely important where we had families who were so well-integrated into the community that we afford them every opportunity to continue to grow and nurture those ties,” she said.
Main image: Main Street, Killarney. Picture by: Alamy.com