Oughterard and direct provision

 

Sir, – At the outset let me declare an interest. I was born and raised in Oughterard, although I have not lived there for nearly 50 years.

I am disconcerted by the portrayal of the ongoing dispute in the town. One would think that agitators from the far right have infiltrated the area and are pushing their agenda on the hapless community. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Of course, those people turned up at the well-attended public meeting to force their opinions into the debate, but have since been given short shrift by the local people.

The local protesters’ concerns are centred on the possible influx of 300 people, an increase of almost 20 per cent, in a community with one doctor, no Garda station and primary and secondary schools with a full complement of pupils.

In addition, the proposed centre is 1.6km outside the town along a busy main road, the first 400 metres of which has no footpath.

Needless to say, reported conditions in existing centres around the country are also a cause for concern.

It is easy for a faceless bureaucrat in a faraway office to make a decision, at the stroke of a pen, which can have far -reaching consequences for a community like Oughterard.

No due diligence seems to have been carried out and, to add insult to injury, it seems that a conscious decision was made not to enter into consultation with the community. Shades of the rod licence dispute 30 years ago.

Oughterard has always been a welcoming community, home to people of all nationalities and creeds.

The present protests will not change that, so it would be helpful if media outlets could bring an unbiased viewpoint to the table. – Yours, etc,

STEPHEN MacDONAGH,

Malahide,

Co Dublin.