LOCAL TD Holly Cairns believes the people of Church Cross and surrounding area will want to support the vulnerable families who are being placed in the former nursing home in the rural townland outside Skibbereen.
Last week, The Southern Star reported that Skibbereen property developer Denny Collins bought the former nursing home to accommodate refugees.
On last Friday and Monday nights, residents in the greater Aughadown area met to discuss the situation.
In a statement, a residents’ spokesperson said they have been told that 34 Ukrainian people – 24 women, six children and four men – are due to arrive at the former nursing home. But by the time the statement was issued, the refugees had already started to take up residence.
On Wednesday, the government’s International Protection Accommodation Services confirmed that an offer of accommodation was made in respect of the property. ‘Discussions are at an early stage, and a full assessment of the property must take place before it can be deemed suitable,’ it said.
According to a community spokesperson, locals have concerns that the facility is very close to the busy N72, with no close amenities.
‘As a community, we hope and trust that the premises will not be overcrowded, as witnessed in other facilities around the country,’ she said. Locals have been informed that there will be 24/7 supervision and support at the new centre.
‘While people are happy to help anyone in need,’ she said, ‘there is general concern and anxiety that, as a small nation, we are at a critical point of becoming unable to support all those in need, including all Irish citizens themselves, in a way that they rightfully deserve.’
A statement said the residents of Aughadown are looking forward to welcoming the Ukrainian families.
Social Democrats leader Holly Cairns, who attended Friday night’s meeting, said she believes the arrival of Ukrainian refugees will have a positive impact on the local community.
‘It’s heartening,’ she added, ‘that so many refugees have already integrated into Irish life by taking up employment or attending local schools. In some cases, the arrival of refugee children has helped save rural schools from closure.’
With Cllr Ross O’Connell (SD), she is proposing to set up a welcoming committee to encourage local groups and sporting organisations to link-in with the refugees.
Independent TD Deputy Michael Collins said: ‘I am on record as saying I don’t agree with the amount of people coming in to our country. I have been accused of being racist and xenophobic, but what I have been saying, all along, is that we need proper immigration controls – namely, people who are fully documented and cleared by immigration.’
After speaking about Church Cross in the Dáil on Tuesday night, he said: ‘It remains the case that the current government approach to housing those seeking international protection is in a state of absolute collapse.’