Tipperary councillors raise questions around housing refugee families

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Tipperary councillors raise questions around housing refugee families

Cllr Seamus Morris: he doesn't want anyone saying that the families were “doing them out of a house”

Nenagh district councillors are demanding a meeting with the Department of Justice over its plans to relocate 12 Syrian families to the town.

While the families would be welcome to Nenagh, councillors said there were questions to be answered around how and where the families would be accommodated.

They were responding to a report from Lyndsey Cleary of Tipperary Resettlement Team, and Padraig Ryan, senior social worker with Tipperary County Council, at their July meeting.

“This couldn’t be coming at a worse time. We have a housing crisis in Nenagh,” said district cathaoirleach Cllr Seamus Morris.

He said they didn’t want anyone saying that the families were “doing them out of a house”.

It was going to be “difficult to sell this”, said Cllr Morris.

“I want it to happen, but I don’t want to waken up and find a busload of people coming through the town” he said.

Cllr Morris said that the resettlement team would need more help on the issue.

He also wanted to know where the money was coming from to purchase houses for the families.

Cllr Joe Hannigan agreed that people already on the housing list were going to ask questions.

Referring to the arrival of families to Borrisokane, he said that in that case the property was privately owned.

“These people are displaced because of war,” he pointed out. “If they would like to go back to their country when the war is over, is there any programme there to allow them go back?” he asked.

While the families should be accommodated as best as the council could, Cllr Michael O’Meara felt they should be placed on the housing list and the council should go to the Department for extra funding for housing.

Cllr Hughie McGrath said that information was the key but the questions he would be asked walking down the street weren’t being answered.

Cllr Fiona Bonfield agreed that the issue was going to be around housing.

“It’s going to be: ‘What about us?’ said Cllr John “Rocky” McGrath. “You are not going to please everybody but we have to do our bit.”

Cllr Ger Darcy said that all the prep work had been done and while it was going in the right direction, the resettlement team needed to bring the community with them.

Ms Cleary told the councillors that the team was “under no illusion” that it was going to be challenging.

However, she assured Cllr Morris that there was not going to be a busload of families arriving in Nenagh.

There will be at least three or four weeks between arrivals.

“It was never the plan that they would arrive under cover of darkness,” said Mr Ryan.

He said that housing had already been identified for the families and they were now awaiting a timeline from the Department.

“About two weeks before they arrive we will come to you and tell you where they are going,” he said.

“The two weeks’ notice is in case something happens to the families or the properties.”  

Cllr Morris told Ms Cleary and Mr Ryan that what the councillors wanted from their meeting with the district council was a meeting with the principal officer of the Department of Justice.

Earlier, Ms Cleary had outlined what was being put in place to help the families settle into Nenagh.

She said that schools had been contacted and had given a positive response, while Tipperary ETB was organising language classes.

A welcome group was already in place and a friends group was being established for one-to-one meetings.

However things were on hold at present due to the Covid-19 restrictions.