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Minister has 'constructive' meeting with locals about Direct Provision centre in Ballinamore

Plans to house over 100 asylum seekers in the town have been postponed amid protests.

Protesters in Ballinamore, Co Leitrim.
Protesters in Ballinamore, Co Leitrim.
Image: Eamonn Farrell/RollingNews.ie

MINISTER OF STATE David Stanton and officials from the Department of Justice and Equality had a “constructive” meeting with residents from Ballinamore in Co Leitrim about the possibility of a Direct Provision centre opening in the town.

Plans to house over 100 asylum seekers in the town have been postponed amid ongoing protests.

In a joint statement released after the meeting, both groups said today’s discussion was “constructive and open”.

The statement noted that representatives from Ballinamore articulated the community’s “support for asylum seekers and to finding an appropriate accommodation solution in their town”.

Stanton thanked the representatives for their “continued engagement”. He, his officials and the community group have agreed to meet again in the coming days to continue these discussions.

When plans to house up to 130 asylum seekers in an apartment complex in the town came to light, some locals raised concerns about the impact this would have on services. They also criticised a lack of engagement from the department prior to the deicison being made. 

A continuous protest has been staged outside the complex in recent weeks. Separately, a group of locals have formed a welcoming committee to show their support of asylum seekers. 

Achill Island 

Last week the department postponed plans to house 13 women for three months in the Achill Head Hotel due to ongoing protests at the site.

Speaking to RTÉ News at One Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said he doesn’t believe the protest is “representative of the people of county Mayo”.

“I am asking that the siege be lifted,” Flanagan said.

He claimed there is some alt-right engagement involved in the situation.

“I have to say, as I saw outside my department on the steps last evening, I have to say that there is, unfortunately, an insidious alt-right engagement here,” Flanagan said. 

“It’s small, it’s vociferous, but it’s acting very unfairly in communities by whipping up an anti-immigrant sentiment which is fundamentally unfair and is not representative of the welcome that the Irish people are noted for.”

Following protests last month in Oughterard, Co Galway, a tender for a permanent Direct Provision centre – due to accommodate 200 asylum seekers – was withdrawn.

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Órla Ryan

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