Public event to be held in Leitrim to say asylum-seekers are welcome

A group has been established to welcome asylum-seekers to the town and they are holding a meeting in Ballinamore tonight.

Public event to be held in Leitrim to say asylum-seekers are welcome

A public event is taking place tonight to say asylum-seekers are welcome in Co Leitrim.

The Department of Justice has 'paused' plans to house 130 people in a direct provision centre in Ballinamore after local opposition.

But another group has been established to welcome asylum-seekers to the town and they are holding a meeting in Ballinamore tonight.

The event is designed to extend a 'warm message of welcome' to the asylum-seekers if and when they arrive.

Organiser Caroline Dempsey said she was concerned about the level of opposition to the plans.

She said: "It was giving out a very negative image."

Ms Dempsey said last week that she stepped forward after local TD Martin Kenny’s car was set alight in an apparent arson attack.

“I think that was a catalyst and I just wanted to show that there is an alternative voice in Ballinamore and it is becoming more mainstream."

Mr Kenny

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He had also received a death threat after speaking out against a “far-right ideology that is being peddled in this country” about asylum seekers.

Plans for the direct provision centre were paused following a meeting with Immigration Minister David Stanton.

The Minister and the local community issued a statement

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"The Minister, his officials and the community group have agreed to meet again in the coming days to continue these discussions."

Last week, Leo Varadkar said the Direct Provision system for asylum seekers

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The Taoiseach said more consultation needs to be carried out with communities following protests in Ballinamore in Co Leitrim and Achill Island – where two accommodation centres for asylum seekers were set to open.

Speaking at an Immigrant Council of Ireland conference in Dublin on Wednesday, Mr Varadkar said immigration brings challenges, but the benefits outweigh them many times over.

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