One hundred and forty Syrian refugees are being accommodated in Kilkenny this year.
The Department of Justice and Equality has advised the local authority that 140 refugees have been allocated to Kilkenny County Council for housing in 2019.
This follows on foot of the Irish Refugee Protection Programme established in 2015 where former Taoiseach Enda Kenny offered to accept four thousand refugees under the UNHCR Resettlement and EU Relocation Programmes. Their extended families will eventually be welcomed bringing the total to about 20,000.
The allocation of refugees to Kilkenny comprises about forty families as well as single people. This in turn will require the delivery by the Council of about 50 multi-bedroom homes throughout the county, specifically in Callan, Thomastown, Graignamanagh, Inistioge, Ballyhale, Stoneyford and Bennettsbridge.
The supply of all the houses will most unsuitably be part of the local authority’s ‘Rebuilding Ireland’ home delivery targets for this year and this is ridiculous.
While there is a consensus that there should be a provision for genuine refugees actually fleeing from a present war, there are serious reservations expressed at the doorsteps as I canvass about the priority of local families on the housing list that has 2,200 applicants clamouring for houses in Kilkenny city and county. And there is no war at present in Syria or anywhere in the Middle East or Africa.
I ask if the refugee families are being housed out of the Council’s own expenditure budget or is there special funding available for this purpose?
I have serious concerns about a couple of thousand families in Kilkenny who have been waiting for housing for years.
I have no issues with us stepping up to the plate to help refugees. But I am concerned that the houses that are to be provided are coming from our own Council housing stock with 2,200 of our own people waiting on the housing list to be housed – in some cases since for over a dozen years!
Why in the name of God are we not getting special funding from the Department?
We should not be housing anyone at the expense of our own people. Nobody should skip the queue, we need a breakdown of the houses provided by the Council for refugees.
Housing provision for refugees is wrongfully included in the Council’s Rebuilding Ireland funding from the Department of Housing and Local Government. It’s ridiculous to include the item under that heading.
There is financial support available from the Department of Justice to assist with the refugee programme for the Syrian families relocating to Kilkenny – but this is not to pay for the houses necessary.
This is a grant €250k to assist with integration and interpreters and such matters, not housing and in any case it would pay for only one house!
These houses available in Kilkenny are badly needed and I hope we will be housing local people first and not people from other countries. These should be houses for Kilkenny people, not outsiders.
The EU now pays nothing towards houses for refugees or any other Incomers into Ireland. Nor does the UN. The Irish taxpayer, including those on the housing list, pays the bill.
Photo: Luxury refugee houses in County Kilkenny