WITH the amount of Ukrainian refugees in Ballyvaughan now greater than the permanent population of the village, the local Community Development Group has asked that no more be housed there.
With local services struggling to cope, Ballyvaughan Community Development Group wrote to Minister Roderic O’Gorman last week about the issue.
The group claimed the population of the area had suddenly risen from 300 to 700, and as a result the local national school is struggling, while there are long waits for appointments at its
It also warned that small businesses that rely on Ballyvaughan tourism will struggle if there is no tourist accommodation and that the winter could see a lot of boredom and frustration among the new arrivals, due to the relatively meagre facilities in the area.
“The local community is becoming increasingly frustrated and angry with the lack of Government support and the lack of communication between IPAS (International Protection Accommodation Services ) and the local community.
“We understand that the Clare County Council has the responsibility to support on the ground but the manpower and the funding in areas that would assist is not available.
“We require footpaths, street lighting, social and sports amenities, traffic calming and a wastewater treatment system in place before such numbers can be catered for in Ballyvaughan,” the letter stated.
The letter was signed by Robert Wainwright and speaking to the Clare Champion, he said there had been local concern that even more refugees could be sent to the area, despite local facilities already struggling to cope.
“We’ve welcomed in over 300 since March, in one particular accommodation. When there were reports of other accommodation becoming available alarm bells rung for the community in terms of the services that are available and the future of business and tourism and the viability as a tourist destination.
“We were informed that 22 more were arriving into a separate accommodation and that could increase because the capacity is more than that.”
He said that many of the Ukrainians have made very positive contributions to the area, working in local tourism businesses at a time of labour shortages. However, he said there is a desparate need for a long term plan now.
“The box is only so big, if you keep adding to it, it overflows.”
Mr Wainwright reiterated that such a small area can’t cope with such a sudden influx.
“We have a post office, it’s under severe pressure with the amount of processing that is required. The medical centre is also struggling to cope, there’s a week and a half wait for an appointment now.
“The school has to base its numbers on what they are from well before the term starts, but now there are even more people and no more funding.
“It was a two classroom school but now its a four classroom school. It has got extra teachers but the cost of running the place is more, the funding doesn’t match the numbers that are there.”
He said that the State officials who have decided to put so many people into such a small place don’t understand the area.
“The Department haven’t thought it through. We deal with the County Council regularly, anything that gets done in Ballyvaughan is generally through them.
“They know Ballyvaughan and they’ve worked well with us, but they have no say in what’s going on, they’re just told this is what’s happening. IPAS and the Government department have no idea what Ballyvaughan is like on the ground.”
Owen Ryan has been a journalist with the Clare Champion since 2007, having previously worked for a number of other regional titles in Limerick, Galway and Cork.