Killarney needs greater help in hosting refugees says local support group

Lack of centralised structures have contributed to leaving services at ‘breaking point’, according to Killarney Asylum Seekers Initiative

A key support organisation for asylum seekers and refugees in Killarney can no longer cope with demand on its services, such are the numbers being placed now in the tourist town, it says.

In a joint statement with the Killarney Chamber of Commerce and Tourism, the 22-year-old Killarney Asylum Seekers Initiative (Kasi), an NGO supported by the EU, Department of Justice and Health Service Executive, said it has had to suspend some of its established activities.

It says the organisation has struggled to deal with queues outside its offices in Killarney town centre as it has only four staff and inadequate office space.

“It’s at breaking point. We can’t cope with the situation, the health service can’t cope and the schools can’t cope with the huge demand, said Kasi chairperson Sheila Casey.


“There appears to have been no consultations between International Protection Accommodation Services (Ipas) and the agencies on the ground. We are being told nothing. Something is going to snap,” Ms Casey warned.

Because of the pressure placed on Kasi services, previous activities such as a women’s group and English language classes have had to be abandoned.

According to the latest figures from the Department of Children, some 3,741 hotel beds in Kerry are contracted for Ukrainian refugees. This is the third highest number after Dublin (5081 beds) and Donegal ( 3903). In addition there are several hundred direct provision applicants in Killarney and Tralee. Killarney has a resident population of 10,363 according to the latest preliminary census figures. Most of the refugees have arrived in the past number of months.

Essential wrap-around services, such as medical care and day-to-day community and supports are at snapping point and the town is struggling to cope with the demand, community leaders are warning.

Killarney Chamber of Tourism and Commerce and Kasi are calling on Ipas and other agencies to consult locally “before any further transfer is even contemplated”.

Chamber President Niall Kelleher said the town was delighted to play its part when agreeing to accommodate Ukrainian refugees, mainly women and children, fleeing from the terrors of war but the necessary follow-on support services required have not been put in place

“The lack of access to proper services is not fair on them, it is not fair on the service providers who are under strain and if the current trends continue, it can only lead to a complete systems failure,” Mr Kelleher said.

In response to a query about placement of refugees and Direct Provision applicants by Ipas, a Department of Children spokesperson said the country is at present providing accommodation to over 58,000 people. “At this point in 2021, the figure was 7,500. This unprecedented increase has resulted in a significant shortage of accommodation options that would ordinarily be available.

The availability of accommodation to house international protection applicants remains a very significant challenge. the department remains actively engaged in the sourcing of emergency accommodation to ensure we can continue to meet our international obligations to those seeking refuge in Ireland.”