Documentary on Syrian refugees in Ballaghaderreen to be broadcast

BBC-TV3 film follows Ghassan (21) and his family as they settle in to Roscommon town

Market Square looking down Main Street Ballaghaderreen, Co  Rocommon. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Market Square looking down Main Street Ballaghaderreen, Co Rocommon. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

 

A documentary on the experience of 240 Syrian refugees since their arrival in Ballaghaderreen, Co Roscommon last March will be aired on TV3 on Thursday at 9pm.

Described as “a powerful and highly emotive documentary”, Ireland’s Refugee Hotel - True Lives is a BBC, TV3 co-production. It follows the Syrians as they arrive in Ballaghaderreen and in particular Ghassan (21) who left his parents behind but is accompanied by his grandmother, aunt, niece and nephew.

The refugees are housed in the town’s Abbeyfield Hotel which was built during the Celtic Tiger years but subsequently closed. The Government’s intention was that the hotel would be home to the refugees for six months as their asylum claims are processed.

The great majority of people in Ballaghaderreen were determined to give the Syrians a warm welcome but some feared the influx of refugees could overwhelm the town and its already overstretched resources.

As the Syrians arrived and settled in, people in the town lent a hand in helping them adjust. Hotel manager Jackie Mullen gave up a career in luxury hotels to run the Abbeyfield and help the refugees acclimatise, while Mary Gallagher, who owns a local clothes shop, says that the Irish history of emigration should encourage us to open our doors to the refugees.

The documentary also follows the asylum process as Ghassan and his family adjust to Ireland. It shows life at the hotel as those providing health and education services struggle to cope with the needs of the refugees, compounded by more new arrivals with accommodation stretched beyond capacity, resulting in tension among residents.