Vigorous opposition to the proposed development of 28 modular homes for Ukrainian refugees in Claremorris was voiced at a special meeting of Mayo County Council on Thursday afternoon.
A number of members used the term “shanty town” to describe the suggested complex which, they maintained, would be squeezed into a 2.7 acre site close to the town centre.
All of the speakers stressed they were supportive and sympathetic to the suffering and trauma of the Ukrainian people but advised there was alternative accommodation for those who were displaced by the ongoing war.
Councillor Richard Finn, an Independent representative for the Claremorris Municipal District, said there was an alternative to the modular complex. He mentioned the availability of space in the local An Tinteán and said there were a number of apartments and houses in the area which could be utilised for accommodation purposes.
“The ‘do-gooders washed their hands of An Tinteán,” Councillor Finn said. “It could be made available to refugees in a short time.”
Of the proposal to build modular homes, on a site along the Ballyhaunis Road, which is owned by the Office of Public Works, the councillor said: “You are talking putting millions [of euro] into a shanty town at a time when there are other buildings in the area available.”
Predicting possible physical opposition to site construction works if a resolution could not be found, Mr Finn said: “People power will take over.”
Councillor Tom Connolly (FG) said he had the utmost sympathy for Ukrainian refugees but Irish people should be getting first choice when it came to the provision of accommodation.
In the course of a discussion lasting two hours, there was criticism of the Office of Public Works.
Councillor Patsy O’Brien (FG) said: “We are dividing communities when you see State bodies interfering in relation to housing.”
Councillor Michael Kilcoyne (Independent) said council management had kept members in the dark about the modular project, circulating them with documentation only some two hours before the meeting but his comments were rejected as “unfair” by council chief executive, Kevin Kelly.
At the end of the meeting, a motion, proposed by Mr Finn, was unanimously carried.
The resolution called on councillors to express their total opposition to the construction of the modular homes and further requested the OPW and Mayo County Council to desist from implementing the proposal “on one of the most valuable sites in Claremorris town”.