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TD Alan Kelly

Outrage from locals in Borrisokane as families living in direct provision face eviction, Dáil told

Labour TD Alan Kelly raised the issue in the Dáil yesterday.

THE DÁIL HAS heard of the “fury” from locals in Borrisokane, Tipperary, over the planned eviction of a number of families living in international protection accommodation. 

Labour TD for Tipperary, Alan Kelly told the Dáil yesterday that the asylum seekers who were welcomed into the community in 2019 are now being evicted, with some of them being told they will have to leave in July. 

He said most have qualified for the housing assistance payment (HAP) but that they cannot find anywhere to live in the local area.

In a statement today, Kelly said these people are left in a “very vulnerable situation” and do not want to move.

He added that the children involved are very upset at the thought of moving and having to start afresh again.

He said locals are “up in arms” over the news.

“If this happens… you will have a protest of a different kind. Uniquely and probably for the first time in Ireland you will have the town liaison committee and many people from surrounding areas will protest the way these asylum seekers are being treated and forced out of their accommodation,” Kelly said. 

In 2019, the town of Borrisokane made headlines after some locals u-turned in their response to the news that a direct provision centre was to be opened. 

As reported by the Irish Times, anger was initially expressed at a local meeting, but after members of the far-right National Party showed up in the town to protest against the direct provision centre, locals were “upset” and changed their approach.

Instead of protesting, they chose to set up a liaison committee to help integrate the asylum seekers into the community.

Kelly told the Dáil that there are now 96 asylum seekers in Borrisokane, including 20 families.

He said the majority have got status in recent years while a few have not. 

He added that among the group are 27 children in primary school, ten in secondary school and 11 at third level and said many of the adults are working.

“They are totally integrated. Mr. Sabelo Mavuso coaches underage soccer. He also set up a community garden in the town park.

“Guillema volunteers with the charity ALONE and Ase has just won the north Tipperary under-13 C hurling championship.

“These individuals are part of a range of other community activities. African Day was on recently when all the community came out to support them,” Kelly said.

2019 Agreement

Kelly noted that an agreement was made between the liaison group and the Department of Justice (which had responsibility for international protection accommodation services at the time) in 2019. 

He told the Dáil: “According to that agreement, if an international protection applicant for status was successful, any subsequent application by that individual to the local authority for financial assistance, i.e. HAP, to enable him or her to continue residing in the Riverside centre would be a very positive and long-term outcome of the community’s welcome and support.”

Kelly said the word of the Government “has to stand”.

He asked: “What are we telling other communities where a progressive change has taken place and asylum seekers have been taken on board? What are we saying to other communities if the word of the Department is not kept?”

In response, Minister of State in the Department of Integration Joe O’Brien said:

“Those families, who in July 2024 will have reached two years with status, have been advised of transfer in Borrisokane to alternative accommodation in July 2024. Each family was notified in writing of this in February and March 2024.

“In recent months, officials have held a number of in-person meetings with those impacted and advised that a transfer to alternative accommodation was under consideration.”

He added that when the Riverside accommodation centre opened at the end of 2019, 7,683 people were accommodated in IPAS accommodation.

This compares to over 30,000 people being accommodated currently.

Kelly responded: “The point I am trying to make here is, given the situation and given what was agreed, why can the Department not ensure for all of these people who qualify for HAP that in some way there is agreement as regards the differential between what potentially is a commercial charge by this company to the Department and what these people are able to pay with HAP?

“Why can an arrangement not be made to help these people?”

He added: “These are vulnerable people. There are so many children involved here. They are totally integrated into the town and the town is not going to let them down.”

O’Brien said that notwithstanding the letter Kelly had, it is “unfortunately the case” that there have been other situations around the country where “because international protection applicants have been in IPAS accommodation and because the community have been supportive, the community has not been happy when we have had to move them.”

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