DEPUTY Cathal Crowe has fired a shot across the bow of government policy by calling for an end to the allocation of more Ukrainian refugees in Clare due to the lack of suitable accommodation.
While Deputy Crowe stressed he agreed that the Banner County should take as many refugees as possible, there was now a point where these refugees were sleeping on airport floors and new tents in Meelick.
The Fianna Fáil Deputy said Ukrainian refugees needed a roof over their heads, education, transport, health provision and pastoral care to deal with the trauma of coming from a war-torn country.
He believes the government is now doing a “disservice” to these refugees by not properly meeting their needs and by proceeding to accommodate them in tents on a so-called temporary basis, which is likely to continue for months due to the lack of permanent dwellings.
The provision of tented facilities for up to new 100 asylum seekers in Meelick has prompted concern about “two-tier” accommodation.
Deputy Crowe stressed he has consistently supported the provision of accommodation and services for asylum seekers and refugees.
“I grew up a stone’s throw from the Knockalisheen Accommodation Centre. I have known refugees who came here and befriended them. I taught some of them in Meelick National School and helped out some of them to remain in the country legally.
“I am very much in the corner of refugees who are part and parcel of my community for many years. But I have a huge worry this tented village that was erected in good weather as a temporary measure will still be there in the winter because I don’t see where the permanent accommodation will come from.
“I shudder to think what it would be like to live in a tent in Knockalisheen in the autumn and winter period. I know the desired pathway is to provide prefabricated accommodated for these people in the winter period but I can’t see any guarantee this will happen in time.
“I have seen very few Ukrainian refugees being accommodated in Dublin. There has been a huge welcome in Clare for refugees, which we should be proud of. I believe accommodating refugees in beauty spots in the West of Ireland in tents during the winter is doing a disservice to them.”
His concern has been shared by Clare Immigrant Support Centre co-ordinator, Orla Ní Éilí is worried short-term emergency accommodation could be in place for months or years in a worst case scenario.
“This is very worrying. Asylum seekers in the Knockalisheen Accommodation Centre can hang out in their bedroom whereas up to ten asylum seekers could be living in one tent.
“It is introducing a new two-tier accommodation system for asylum seekers.”
It is understood the tents in Knockalisheen will be used to accommodate single asylum seeker men.