Minister must Consult with Residents Regarding Refugees – Tóibín
Aontú Leader and Meath West TD Peadar Tóibín has called on Minister Roderic O’Gorman to engage and consult with local communities when locating refugees and asylum seekers. He stated;
“The vast majority of Irish people want to fulfil our international responsibilities when it comes to refugees fleeing war, violence and hunger. The vast majority of people want to be the good Samaritan in this time of need. However recent the government’s actions are clearly causing deep division in certain communities. Integration is in the title of Minister Roderic O’Gorman’s department. Yet his actions of late are contrary to integration. They have caused divisions and they have pitched one group of vulnerable or struggling people against another”.
“There must be engagement and consultation in future. Minister Roderic O Gorman says he will have East Wall leafleted to let residents know what's happening. He is clearly too late. Consultation is expected for wind turbines, pylons, hotels or new blocks of apartments. Residents have a right to be consulted about their future. Indeed we have had TDs such as Aodhán O Riordán campaign against apartment blocks being built in his own constituency. The Government also need to ensure that there is capacity in terms of health services, schools, transport and housing in local communities. The government should be showing that there is a community dividend rather that the widespread fear that there is a community cost”.
“I would also caution against name calling at this very sensitive time. The East Wall community is very much a multicultural community. Community relations have been excellent for many years. Calling communities who are struggling with the lack of services for years, names during this period only polarises the situation further. There will be extreme and nefarious groups who will seek to exploit this polarisation. I would encourage the Government to meet with local residents groups and work through the difficulties that exist”.
“Government incompetency in this whole process has been startling. Over 500 vacant buildings were identified for accommodating Ukrainian refugees last April. And yet Roderic O’Gorman told RTE Prime Time recently that just 10 are now operational. In June the Minister said that the first batch of 500 modular homes would be delivered by October. None have been built and there is talk that February deadline will be moved. It was reported in September that over 85% of properties pledged for Ukrainian refugees have not been ‘activated. The Minister has confirmed to Aontú in a PQ answer that 29 properties have been purchased for asylum seekers under the White Paper to End Direct provision plans. Currently all of them appear to be vacant, as the government have abandoned or paused the plans to end DP ?”.