'We don't know who's coming' - Westmeath town of 200 to house almost 100 asylum seekers

Between January 1st 2022 and the end of September this year, over 22,500 international protection applicants arrived in Ireland
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

14.12 3 Nov 2023

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'We don't know who's coming' -...

'We don't know who's coming' - Westmeath town of 200 to house almost 100 asylum seekers

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

14.12 3 Nov 2023

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Protesters in a Westmeath town that is soon to welcome nearly 100 asylum seekers have urged the Government has to clamp down on applicants that 'don't need' international protection.

Figures show between January 1st 2022 and the end of September this year, over 22,500 international protection applicants arrived in Ireland.

On The Pat Kenny Show this morning, Newstalk’s Chief Reporter Barry Whyte said the figures show the number of people arriving in Ireland is not dropping.


"The number of asylum seekers arriving here has not decreased, though they did slow down around April and May," he said.

"The numbers arriving have been increasing steadily on a monthly basis since then.

"Up until the end of September, 8,906 asylum seekers arrived here; 1,249 arriving in the month of September while 1,152 arrived in August.

"It's not secret that the Government have been struggling to source accommodation for asylum seekers and refugees."

'It isn't going away'

Barry said several towns around the country have been protesting in recent days.

"In recent days there has been criticism in Killarney after it was announced that 70 international protection applicants would be accommodation in another hotel in the town," he said.

"It'll bring the total number of asylum seekers in Killarney 720.

"There has also been a public meeting in Rosslare this week over plans to house more asylum seekers there.

"In the village of Coole in Co Westmeath locals have been protesting this week over plans to accommodate 98 asylum seekers in a vacant building in that village.

"The village has a population of just 200."

'Irish homeless everywhere'

One resident told Barry there are very few amenities in the village.

"There's a shop, a pub; there's a post office, there's a school and doctors - that's about it," she said.

She said she believes the Government has 'lost control' of its immigration policy.

"There's Irish homeless everywhere – everywhere - even the weekend I was in Galway.

"There was older men lying on the streets, it's just ridiculous.

"They need to clamp down for starters, because it seems in Ireland that absolutely anybody can come in here.

"Yet if we were going somewhere on holidays, you couldn't go up to Dublin Airport without a passport - it's ridiculous," she added.

'A complete stop'

One man said he can't access basic services in the town himself.

"I can't even get to the local doctors, they're full," he said.

"These new people coming in, the 98 people coming in, they will have access to the doctors, the dentist - I can't.

"I'd say there's other people in the town as well who can't and have to go to Mullingar town to get to the doctor.

"There's no bus route from here to Mullingar town, yet there's going to be specific buses made for these people."

He said the Government doesn't have to be harsh, but has to be realistic.

"They're just going to have to put a complete stop," he said.

"You don't want to be harsh on somebody but you have to harsh and say, 'No we can't put you anywhere else'.

"At the moment they're putting people in tents, it's now November, thay have to come out and go into accommodation.

"There is nowhere to put anybody, so it just all has to stop at this stage, it's getting beyond a joke," he added.

'They need to clamp down'

Another woman said the people coming to the town will have nothing to do.

"There's nothing for us here - we have our cars, we can go places - but these people will have nothing," she said.

"They're going to be brought to the grocery store a couple of times a week, that's all they're going to have.

"They're going to be accomodated, the contract is for two years.

"We don't know who's coming to our community".

She said the Government has to scrutinise people claiming protection.

"Everyone is entitled to international protection, but there's people who are coming here and they're playing a game," she said.

"They haven't been at war, their countries are not at war.

"The Government need to clamp down and study these people coming into our country.

"Give the people that need international protection, give it to them, but don't give to the people who don't need it," she added.

'Ireland is a weak link'

Former Deputy Director of Military Intelligence in the Irish Army, Michael Murphy, told Barry that Ireland is a weak link.

"You have to know who's coming into the country," he said.

"If I'm a terrorist living abroad and running a terrorist organisation, and I want to get people into Europe, I'm going to try to find the weakest link.

"Ireland seems to be a weak link, where we haven't a clue who's coming into our country.

"They don't seem to be doing proper checks" he added.

Listen back here:

Main image: Signs in Coole in Co Westmeath, and tents outside the International Protection OFfice in Dublin

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Barry Whyte Coole Dublin Airport Immigration Policy International Protection International Protection Office Killarney Michael Murphy The Pat Kenny Show Westmeath

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