Cllr Peggy Nolan believes State aid of €165,000 set aside for the arrival of 60 Syrian refugees to the county is substantially below what is required
The Government’s decision to allocate €165,000 to Longford County Council in its attempts to accommodate 60 Syrian refugees has been branded “totally inadequate”.
The Leader can this week reveal for the first time the extent of State funding which has been apportioned to the local authority under the Government's Irish Refugee Protection Programme (IRPP).
In documents released to the Leader under the Freedom of Information Act, the Department of Justice confirmed it has ring fenced €165,000 as part of the exercise.
Approximately half of this allocation-€82,500 was transferred to the Council on foot of a signed grant agreement on January 31.
On average, the total contribution set aside as part of that arrangement works out at €2,750 per refugee over the course of the next 18 months.
In a statement, the Department said it expected its agreement with Longford County Council to last until September 2018.
“The Longford Resettlement Programme commenced on March 1 2018 and will run for an 18 month period, during which period the county will receive 60 refugees.
“The remainder of the grant will be released in tranches subject to returns of financial and operational returns from the Council.”
It was also revealed that despite the first batch of refugees expected to arrive into Longford last month, this will now not commence until June at the earliest.
Longford County Council said it had no update to provide when contacted by the Leader last week, stating talks with Department officials were ongoing regarding the resettlement programme.
Despite those efforts, the scope of State aid provided as part of the relocation scheme has come in for stinging criticism from local politicians.
Cllr Peggy Nolan said she believed the six figure sum fell way below the required standards that were needed to meet the needs of the estimated ten families scheduled to arrive here in three months time.
“€180,000 wouldn’t look after one family,” she said.
“It doesn’t even come a poor second to looking after these people.”
Cllr Nolan said greater clarity in terms of the types of resources being made available to allow counties like Longford to facilitate such refugee placement programmes, was required.
She was one of a number of locally elected representatives to learn of the news at a Longford/Westmeath Education and Training Board (ETB) meeting in Mullingar last year.
“In Mullingar, I do know they were told these people would need houses, that they would need educational and medical facilities.
Have they been put in place in Longford?”