Syr­ian refugees in New Ross and Ros­ber­con got best ten­ancy op­tion

STATE­MENT THAT REFUGEES GOT ROS­BER­CON HOUSES THAT WERE AL­READY OC­CU­PIED ‘TO­TALLY WRONG’

New Ross Standard - - NEWS - By DAVID LOOBY

THE de­ci­sion to lo­cate Syr­ian fam­i­lies in Ros­ber­con has been de­fended by Kilkenny and Wex­ford county coun­cil of­fi­cials.

Se­nior Hous­ing Of­fi­cer Martin Mul­lally out­lined the Kilkenny re­set­tle­ment pro­gramme in Ros­ber­con at a joint meet­ing of Pil­town and New Ross mu­nic­i­pal dis­trict coun­cils.

Mr Mul­lally said Kilkenny County Coun­cil is due to house 140 refugees. The ini­tial fam­i­lies were housed in Kilkenny City.

He said: ‘ The view was that they should be spread around the county. The ap­proved hous­ing body ap­proached us and ten houses were of­fered in Ros­ber­con. We looked at hous­ing four fam­i­lies but it was con­sid­ered to be more suit­able to house two fam­i­lies and not four.’

He said an in­ter-agency com­mit­tee was estab­lished, as in other coun­ties, to help put struc­tures in place to sup­port the fam­i­lies. ‘At the end of the day we have ten houses avail­able to us in this es­tate. We are nom­i­nat­ing two Syr­ian fam­i­lies and we have four nom­i­na­tions for the New Ross area and four for the en­vi­rons on the Ros­ber­con side.’

Around half of the fam­i­lies to be housed in County Kilkenny have been housed, Mr Mul­lally said, adding that an in­ter­preter has been con­tacted and services have been put in place.

‘Over­all it has gone rea­son­ably well. We have English lan­guage pro­vi­sion sup­port struc­tures and some have be­come very in­volved and very ac­tive in lo­cal sports and GAA clubs. Hope­fully we will see them lin­ing out as Kilkenny or Wex­ford hurlers one day,’ he said.

Se­nior Hous­ing Of­fi­cer with Wex­ford County Coun­cil Padraig O’Gor­man said County Wex­ford is more ad­vanced with its re­set­tle­ment pro­gramme than Kilkenny, say­ing the last seven fam­i­lies will be housed over the com­ing weeks.

He said 12 fam­i­lies com­pris­ing 25 adults and 41 chil­dren have been housed in New Ross, most of the chil­dren be­ing of pri­mary school go­ing age and younger.

‘We have four clus­ters in the county in New Ross, Gorey, En­nis­cor­thy and Wex­ford. The New Ross clus­ter has closed and there won’t be any more fam­i­lies.’

Mr O’Gor­man said the De­part­ment of Jus­tice has ex­tended fund­ing for the re­set­tle­ment pro­gramme for next three months. He said one of the stand-out as­pects of the re­set­tle­ment pro­gramme has been the in­volve­ment of vol­un­teers, fa­cil­i­tated by Do­ras Lu­miní, an or­gan­i­sa­tion that sup­ports Syr­ian refugees.

‘ The wives of Mus­lim doc­tors in Wex­ford Gen­eral Hos­pi­tal have helped moth­ers find where to buy spices and helped with home­work clubs and in teach­ing the par­ents and chil­dren English. We got re­ally good con­tacts through Do­ras Lu­miní. The in­te­gra­tion of fam­i­lies into the com­mu­nity has gone re­ally well.’

He said in­ter-agency groups had a lot of the work com­pleted be­fore­hand.

Cllr Michael Shee­han claimed that Kilkenny County Coun­cil ac­quired houses when peo­ple were al­ready liv­ing in them only to be told in no un­cer­tain terms that this would never hap­pen and didn’t hap­pen.

‘ This is all about com­mu­ni­ca­tion. At least out of cour­tesy to let us know this was hap­pen­ing in our area, but it seems to be work­ing out quite well.’

Cllr Melissa O’Neill said the mes­sage that went out from Cllr Shee­han from the last meet­ing of the joint coun­cil was very to­tally wrong.

‘We didn’t buy any houses where peo­ple were liv­ing in them. There is a pol­icy whereby we don’t ac­quire houses and no per­son is made home­less through the ac­qui­si­tion of a home. We have a hous­ing list of our own and we are well aware of the EU pro­gramme for pay­ing for the (hous­ing) ac­qui­si­tions. They are two com­pletely sep­a­rate funds.’

She asked if the coun­cil has to pay for the houses only to be re­im­bursed months later through the fund­ing mech­a­nism and was told by Mr Mul­lally that this is the case.

The av­er­age spend on a three bed for the fam­i­lies is €120,000.

Mr O’Gor­man said Wex­ford County Coun­cil has bought 12 prop­er­ties.

Cathaoir­leach of New Ross Mu­nic­i­pal dis­trict Cllr John Flem­ing said no­body is be­ing thrown out of their house, adding that it is a land­lord’s de­ci­sion to ask a ten­ant to leave and not Kilkenny County Coun­cil’s.

‘ They can be housed through any mech­a­nism,’ Mr O’Gor­man said, adding that hous­ing the refugees di­rectly was the best and most se­cure op­tion in terms of ten­ancy.

He said there are very spe­cial sup­ports in place presently for the refugees, adding that once they are with­drawn the coun­cil will be back to only be­ing able to pro­vide lo­cal area hous­ing of­fi­cers and so­cial work­ers if and when they are avail­able.

‘So it’s im­por­tant to get them set­tled and in­te­grated into the com­mu­nity. There was a ru­mour that they were go­ing to use re­lo­ca­tion into Ire­land to get ac­cess to the UK there is not one inkling of that. They want to get into training and jobs. They have been a plea­sure to work with and are very house proud and ap­pre­cia­tive of all of the services.’

Cllr Wil­lie Fitzhar­ris said an­other bonus has been that the coun­cil has been gain­ing prop­er­ties.

Cllr O’Neill said some Kilkenny ten­ants are not happy about their houses. ‘Do they go on a trans­fer list. Let’s face it the is­sues are go­ing to come and they are al­ready there.’

Mr Mul­lally said the same rules ap­ply for Syr­ian refugee fam­i­lies as they do for Ir­ish fam­i­lies. ‘If they are in a two-bed and the fam­ily has grown they will be con­sid­ered. We have a clear trans­fer pol­icy with strict con­di­tions and they are no dif­fer­ent.’

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