Kerry Councillor: ‘My own’ before refugees on housing list

Some county councillors in Kerry believe local families already on a housing waiting list should be “looked after first” before the planned arrival of refugees.

Kerry Councillor: ‘My own’ before refugees on housing list

The county is to receive a total of 45 refugees between now and early 2016, councillors were told yesterday.

Up to 550 refugees have already arrived in Ireland directly from UN camps in the Lebanon, and include Syrian and Iraqis.

A Kerry inter-agency group, set up to deal with the request by the Office of Migrant Integration to house families, has already decided the refugees should be accommodated in Tralee and Killarney. Both towns had the requisite services, said John Breen, director of housing.

However, during the discussion, there were calls by Independent councillors Donal Grady and Danny Healy-Rae, representatives of Killarney, for those already on the housing list in Kerry to be looked after “first”. Some 4,000 people were waiting to be housed in Kerry, said Mr Grady.

“My own come first. See after our homeless; see after the people who don’t have a roof over their head,” he said.

Mr Healy-Rae called for “separate funding and separate housing” for the refugees. He also suggested “idle” holiday homes be used to house refugees.

Independent councillor Danny Healy-Rae

Independent councillor Danny Healy-Rae

He added that he and Mr Grady had been making representation for people on the housing list, including refugees and immigrants. He resented a charge by Fianna Fáil councillor John Brassil that he was “unchristian”.

“I might be every bit of a Christian as he is!” said Mr Healy-Rae.

Kerry is one of five counties asked to host refugees, and the small numbers would not displace others in terms of services, the director of housing services said.

The first families will arrive in Kerry in November.

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