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Home » Breaking News » Residents receive information denied to TDs on Shannon Direct Provision facility
Unit 153 at Shannon Business Park (a large building close to where Molex had been located) has been made available to the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth for emergency accommodation purposes.

Residents receive information denied to TDs on Shannon Direct Provision facility

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WHILE the State won’t make the information public, the Concerned Shannon Residents Group have received details from other sources about the development of Unit 153 at the Shannon Business Park for the accomodation of International Protection Applicants.

Even local TDs are struggling to get information from the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, but the group have received a diagram showing that there are plans for 70 bedrooms on the ground floor of the building. It is unclear if there will be further bedrooms on other floors at the site.

This week several members of Concerned Shannon Residents said they have serious concerns that very little planning has been done for the hundreds of people set to be housed in the new Direct Provision Centre.

They also say the level of secrecy around the proposal is unhelpful, something that Clare TD Michael McNamara has also slammed, while he accused the Government of a contempt from the democratic process.

Deputy McNamara said there is no sign of any lessons being learned, despite the failures already seen this year.

“The plans they have got ( Concerned Shannon Residents) are a lot more than I have. We have written repeatedly to Roderic O’Gorman and Joe O’Brien and their offices and received no information. It’s annoying given what happened in Inch and what went wrong in Inch, given that there is and has been consultation with communities in parts of Dublin. I just find it astounding.”

He said there is no doubt that a plan for the Shannon site has been completed, even though it is not being shared by the Department with locals or their representatives. “There may be some civil servants that would throw out taxpayers money without an agreement in place, but no private sector body is going to start spedning money doing up a building without an agreement being in place. That line doesn’t wash.

“I think its conemptuous of the public and those who represent the public. It bodes badly for our democracy. And they’ll be the people whingeing and crying about the growth of the far right. When they treat democracy and elected representatives with contempt what do they expect?”

He said that the locals do have a right to know what is happening and to be told what plans are being made for additional services. “They have a right to some kind of information. The planning system has been bypassed; a planning system that the Green Party puts a lot of focus on when it suits them but not when it doesn’t.

“Secondly, what is the long term plan for additional services in Shannon? I’ve asked the same question about Scariff, the same question about Miltown Malbay, what additional services are being provided around health, around education. It is self-evident that if you put a large number of new people into an area it’s going to impose an additional burden on the health system, arguably more than Irish people into the area because there are language barriers, cultural barriers. What is the plan?”

While the Concerned Shannon Residents have been seeking a public meeting on the issue, Mr McNamara said he has no information to give them at the moment. “I’ve sought information and if I got that information I’d be happy to give it to them, but I’m not getting the information. But we will get an email at some point saying this is what’s happening, it’s happening now, and we look forward to your assistance in making these people welcome. It’s idiotic, it’s counterproductive and it’s contemptuous of democracy.”

One Shannon person living across the road from where the Direct Provision centre is going to be, said she has concerns about the impact on local services, especially strained medical services. She also said the secrecy around the development is worrying. “We would be quite close to the building and we’re not getting any answers. We are concerned.

“There’s no extra doctors, no extra Gardaí, no infrastructure, there isn’t even the infrastructure for the people already living in the town. Two and three weeks people are waiting to see doctors. If they’re going to bring in a few hundred extra people what’s that going to do?

“There’s going to be more pressure, people already can’t get to see doctors. Nobody is giving us any answers, we just want to know what’s going on, we’re very concerned that we’re not getting any answers.”

Another local man said that the background of the new arrivals wasn’t his issue. “If a few hundred lads from Dublin were being moved in there we’d be concerned as well.”

Michelle Hayes from the Concerned Shannon Residents Group said that there is a shortage of GPs, a problem that is likely to get worse, even before hundreds of asylum seekers arrive. “My GP Peter Flynn is supposed to be retiring soon. He’s our family doctor and my Dad is sick at the moment. If we only have Dr Williams, Dr Ronan Flynn and Doctor 365 where are all the patients going to go? I’m worried about my family, if my kids get sick. In UHL you could be sitting on a trolley for three days before you get seen.”

Another man involved in the group said that genuine issues should not be dismissed. “It’s important to reiterate that we’re not against people. It’s the lack of planning, the lack of communicaiton, the lack of organisation, the lack of building up infrastructure to meet needs.”

Elaine Kingston has been to the forefront of the group since it was established earlier this year and she said that people are concerned that little will be done to manage a challenging situation. “Large groups of people in a warehouse, regardless of where they’re from, if it’s not going to end well if it’s not managed well.

“The worry that people have is that they don’t have faith in the Government to manage it well because they haven’t told us anything.”

She said that the group are not xenophobic, but have real concerns about plans being made in secret for their town. “We have been very engaging, very respectful,, but we are begging for answers. We are normal, ordinary decent people, all we want is answers, we want to know what is going on and we’re worried about our families from every level. What knock on effects will this have and why the secrecy?”

Ms Kingston said the fact that even Clare TDs can’t get answers is very worrying. “If they’re not being told then what hope have we? And why, what is so secret?”

Owen Ryan
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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.

About Owen Ryan

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.