Government and Council 'misguided' over Longford-Syrian refugee decision

Liam Cosgrove

Reporter:

Liam Cosgrove

Email:

liam.cosgrove@longfordleader.ie

Longford County Council headquarters

Cllr Mae Sexton believes Longford's socio-economic make up is not ready for the anticipated intake of ten Syrian refugee families

Longford County Council's announcement last week of its plans to resettle 10 Syrian refugee families in Longford has been branded “misguided” by one of its longest serving elected members.

Cllr Mae Sexton said she was still smarting from the Council's decision to relay its intentions at a behind closed doors or 'in committee' meeting last Friday.

Those admissions came less than 48 hours after the Leader first revealed that Longford was set to take in 40 to 60 Syrian refugees under the Government's Irish Refugee Protection Programme.

“For any government dept/local authority to decide to place already traumatised and vulnerable communities into an area with a 60% dependency rate -well above the national average - and a deprivation index of an equally stark nature without first taking the State's own statistics, identified in numerous internal and external reports, into consideration is inexcusable and shameful and offers nothing but lip-service to the vulnerable people it claims to represent,” she seethed.

“The decision taken by the County Council Executive last week in Dublin and the lack of opposition to that decision at Friday's 'in committee meeting' of the council is, to my mind, misguided and I take no pleasure in being the only one to say so.”

Cllr Sexton was at pains to stress her remarks were not of a racist or xenophobic nature, but rather were aimed at highlighting Longford's already hard-pressed social and economic populace.

“My comments relate not to unfortunate refugees – wherever they might come from - but to the economic viability of the decision only which took no consideration of or made reference to the socio-economic demographic of Longford,” she continued.

In a statement, Longford County Council said the upshot of last week's revelations first emanated from a government led decision two years ago.

“The Government in September 2015 committed to taking in 4,000 people through different mechanisms. It established the Irish Refugee Protection Programme and tasked local authorities and (the) NGO Community to work together to find long term housing.

“The meeting on Friday was an opportunity to inform the members in relation to the Irish Refugee Protection Programme.”