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Future refugee consultation planned

Fianna Fáil TD for Roscommon/Galway Eugene Murphy has welcomed the fact that future consultation is planned with various local agencies in County Roscommon in relation to the opening of the Syrian refugee centre in Ballaghaderreen.

Deputy Murphy was speaking after the special Oireachtas briefing with Minister of State David Stanton which took place in Leinster House this afternoon. Senior officials from the Department of Justice noted that while there was not a “specific pot of money” being allocated to Ballaghaderreen they stressed that the Department of Education, the HSE would have ring fenced money in their annual budgets to deal with whatever additional services and resources were required.

“Minister Stanton indicated that a mobile medical assessment unit would be in place in Dublin when the 80 Syrian refugees initially arrive in Ireland to assess their needs and this would take the pressure off local services. The informed us that HSE officials had been in touch with GPs in Ballaghaderreen today and one of the points I stressed was the need to fast track a child psychologist for County Roscommon as we do not currently have one in the county and many of these children will undoubtedly have suffered untold trauma while some of the adults may have been subject to torture etc so I think it’s vital that post is in place before the refugees arrive in Ballaghaderreen in early March.

“I welcome the fact that the Minister did indicate that there would be further consultation with various local agencies and they have been in touch with CEO of Roscommon County Council Eugene Cummins in that regard. A special community fund will also be put in place which will allow local groups to apply for small grants of between 5,000 to 10,000 euro if they have proposals for projects to help the refugees integrate into the local community.

“The Minister also said that where possible goods, services and staff for the refugee centre would be sourced locally however when we pressed him on this point it emerged that it is not stipulated in the contract that this must be the case but officials indicated that they were anxious for the locality to benefit from an employment and services point of view.”

“Senior Officials also said that the company with whom they have taken the contract with for the provision of the refugee centre is a different company to the one which has purchased 60 houses in Ballaghaderreen. Officials also said they would take a very hands on approach in the centre and they would be there on a weekly basis to ensure the co-ordination and links between the refugees and local agencies was a smooth as possible.

“A breakdown of the group also revealed  37 children will be included in the group of  82 Syrians coming to Ballaghaderreen – that figure includes 13 children under the age of four, 19 children in the five to 12 age category and 4 children over the age of thirteen. The Minister indicated that a pre-school may be set up  in the centre for the young children and that where possible the older children would attend local schools but this depended on the individual child as some of them may have never been in a school setting so in that case it may be necessary to set up a school setting in the actual refugee centre.

“The Minister also indicated that they were open to the possibility of the leisure centre being opened in the hotel if an operator was interested and this could benefit the local community while he also stated that if the local community wanted to use meeting rooms etc in the former hotel this could also be accommodated,” said Deputy Murphy.

(File pic: Wikimedia Commons copyright free)

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