Protest ‘galvanises’ plan to invite Syrian family to Lismore

Project has already housed Syrians in Meath who are ‘overwhelmed by the welcome’

Angham Younes, Zuhair al-Fakir and  daughter Lorca al-Fakir with Minister of State David Stanton: family has moved to Dunshaughlin, Co Meath, under the Community Sponsorship Ireland initiative for refugees. Photograph: Maxwells

Angham Younes, Zuhair al-Fakir and daughter Lorca al-Fakir with Minister of State David Stanton: family has moved to Dunshaughlin, Co Meath, under the Community Sponsorship Ireland initiative for refugees. Photograph: Maxwells

 

The organisers of a project aimed at welcoming a Syrian refugee family to Lismore in Co Waterford say they have been “galvanised” into pressing ahead with the plan by protests held at an information meeting this week.

Joan O’Mahony, of the Lismore Welcome Project, said the disruption of Monday’s meeting by a group of about 10 people prevented questions from being properly answered. She said the action “seemed to be orchestrated” and that nobody from Lismore was involved.

Ms O’Mahony said there were many supportive comments around the area the next day: “I would say the majority of people are for it. You’re always not going to get everybody in agreement with it.”

‘Positive and supportive’

The meeting on Monday was attended by Minister of State for Integration David Stanton, who on Wednesday said local people were “extremely positive and supportive” of the project, which is likely to see the town become one of 10 that will take in a Syrian family. A private house will be identified and fitted out before the family moves in.

Mr Stanton said there had “absolutely not” been any protests or negative developments as a result of a Syrian family, the al-Fakirs, recently moving to Dunshaughlin, Co Meath, as part of the project.

“We were overwhelmed by the welcome and outpouring of love that we encountered on our arrival, and since,” Zuhair al-Fakir said.

The project is part of the Government’s commitment to resettle 4,000 Syrians from UN refugee camps. The Department of Justice said there would be a “stringent vetting process” before families were invited to Ireland.