A LABOUR COUNCILLOR in Carlow has called for affirmative actions for locals in his area, saying they should be housed before any consideration is given to asylum seekers.
Labour has distanced itself from the remarks of councillor Will Paton who made the call at a meeting of Carlow county council on Monday.
He posted about his contribution on Facebook shortly after:
“I’ve just made a contribution to Carlow County Council calling for affirmative action for housing locals first before any consideration is given to housing asylum seekers,” he wrote.
Paton, who has represented the Tullow area since 1999, said there are very few houses available for rent and, for those that are, landlords are refusing rent supplement or the housing assistance payment.
“When all the locals are housed then I will gladly welcome asylum seekers,” he said.
According to figures released by Fianna Fáil’s environment spokesperson Barry Cowen in September there are around 1,400 people on the Carlow county council social housing waiting list.
When contacted by TheJournal.ie today, Paton refused to discuss or expand on his Facebook comments, saying he did not want to “get into a debate on the matter”:
I said what it says and I’m not going to debate it. I am not going to discuss the matter. I’ve said enough on the matter.
He then hung up the phone.
A Labour spokesperson distanced the party from Paton’s remarks, saying his view “does not reflect that of the Labour party”. They continued:
Last autumn, the government agreed to offer places for 4,000 or so refugees from the Syrian crisis. This was important to Labour. Councillor Paton doesn’t represent the views of the Labour party.
The spokesperson added that Paton appeared to be “a bit confused about asylum seekers” saying those arriving from Syria are refugees, which means they have the same rights enjoyed by Irish citizens.