State to provide extra resources for Ballaghaderreen refugees

Minister of State says local management group will oversee delivery of services

The Abbey Field Hotel, Ballaghaderreen, where the refugees are due to be housed. Photograph: Brian Farrell

The Abbey Field Hotel, Ballaghaderreen, where the refugees are due to be housed. Photograph: Brian Farrell

 

The Government has committed to providing medical services, language training, education, cultural orientation and social protection services to the 82 Syrian refugees who are expected in Ballaghaderreen, Co Roscommon, in early March.

Minister of State for Equality David Stanton said a local management group would be established to oversee the delivery of services to residents in the centre. He added that the group would be made up of department officials and local service providers.

He was responding to a question from Fine Gael Senator Maura Hopkins on the resources and services that would be made available to the refugees.

The Department of Justice announced earlier this month that a group of mostly Syrian refugees would be housed in a former hotel in Ballaghaderreen. The hotel will be used as an Emergency Reception and Orientation Centre to provide temporary housing to refugees before they move to permanent homes across the country. Hazel Hotel in Monasterevin and the Clonea Strand hotel in Dungarvan are also being used to temporarily house recently arrived refugees from Greece.

While key services such as health and education will be provided through mainstream services, Mr Stanton told the Seanad on Thursday that the centres would “act as hubs for the important range of services that need to be delivered to these particularly vulnerable people. This includes medical services, language training, education, cultural orientation and social protection services.”

“The principal aim of the Government in establishing such centres is to provide a safe and calm environment where these migrants, mostly young families who have endured unimaginable loss and suffering, can take time to recover physically and mentally, acclimatise themselves to Irish society, learn English, and start planning for their future.”

Mr Stanton underlined the importance of community involvement in welcoming refugees and announced plans to launch a funding programme to encourage communities across the State to support of integration.

“I have been very heartened by the welcome shown by the people of Ballaghaderreen towards the refugees and asylum seekers. I believe that this goodwill should be harnessed into community action.”

Asylum seekers

According to the latest statistics from the Department of Justice, a total of 761 asylum seekers have arrived in the State to date under the Government’s humanitarian programme for people fleeing conflict in Syria and other war-torn countries in the Middle East and north Africa.

Under the Irish Refugee Protection Programme (IRPP), the Government committed in 2015 to admitting 4,000 people over three years. So far, some 240 people have arrived under the relocation strand of the programme from Greece. Of these, 34 per cent are under the age of 12.

The relocation strand is now interviewing some 80 asylum seekers in Athens every month for relocation in the State and the Government hopes to have welcomed at least 1,100 asylum seekers from Greece by next September.

The remaining asylum seekers have arrived in the State under the IRPP resettlement strand which brings people from camps in Lebanon and Jordan.

The Tánaiste has also confirmed that the Republic will take in a further 520 refugees in 2017, bringing the resettlement number to 1,040 by the end of this year.