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Flanagan said there is 'no threat' to local communities from Direct Provision

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan was speaking to RTÉ One’s The Week in Politics this afternoon.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan
Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan
Image: Leah Farrell via RollingNews.ie

JUSTICE MINISTER CHARLIE Flanagan has said there is “no threat” to local communities from Direct Provision. 

Speaking to RTÉ One’s The Week in Politics, Flanagan said Direct Provision “isn’t really perfect”, but added that he won’t have asylum seekers on the streets.

“But we have a housing challenge here. I cannot have asylum seekers on the streets and I won’t have asylum seekers on the streets,” Flanagan said. 

He was speaking today after protests over an expected Direct Provision centre in Oughterard in Co Galway yesterday. 

Large crowds took part in a march in the town yesterday, as organisers claim the community was not consulted ”about the direct provision centre”.

The group says it welcomes refugees but is against the prospect of direct provision centres. 

“We are a community movement. We are the voice of the people. We are protesting for the rights of the asylum seekers. For the people of Oughterard. The people of Connemara. The people of Ireland. Oughterard will be a platform for positive change,” the organisers said.

Speaking to RTÉ Radio One’s Drivetime earlier this week, lanagan said there has been “no decision” about the potential for a Direct Provision centre in Oughterard, Co Galway but that “expressions of interest are ongoing”.

Flanagan acknowledged that community concerns about Direct Provision centres must be listened to.

When asked today whether he will meet with the community, Flanagan said: “Well, I’m not sure what kind of a solution they are looking for. It seems to me that the local community doesn’t want a centre in the area. There are a number of mixed messages.”

Flanagan noted there are almost 40 Direct Provision centres in 18 counties around Ireland and said “all of them are working reasonably well”. 

“I don’t have any great choices here, but myself and my Minister of State David Stanton, who met a group from Oughterard during the week, will continue to engage once decisions are made,” he said. 

I can safely say there is no threat to local communities from direct provision.

Flanagan went on to say he is “very concerned at situations where local opposition is being unfairly and unduly whipped up with anti-immigrant sentiment”.

“Once a decision is made on Oughterard there will be local engagement,” he said. 

Of course we need to ensure that there is integration. Of course we need to ensure there are health service deliveries, that there are schools and sport and recreation and that there is full consultation with members of the local community.

Also speaking on The Week in Politics, Social Democrats TD Róisin Shorthall claimed there is a “very dangerous situation arising in Oughterard”, adding that it has resulted in an “information gap” from the Department of Justice. 

“Locating a direct provision centre in an area has to be handled very carefully and there has to be clear information provided and assurances that that that direct provision centre is going to be operated properly,” Shorthall said. 

Fianna Fáil Justice spokesperson Jim O’Callaghan told the programme that Flanagan should meet with representatives of Oughterard.

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