With the ongoing commitment of the Irish State to take in 4,000 refugees from war torn Syria, the Green Party has urged the Government to support a nationwide community-led befriending and welcoming programme supported through Local Authorities.
The Greens made the call following the establishment of a Refugee Reception Committee consisting of statutory agencies only, and the lack of a coordinated voluntary support service on the ground in respective counties.
Speaking today, Green Party Spokesperson for Community and Local Government, Councillor Malcolm Noonan said that while the intake of refugees from Syria was most welcome, many families and individuals are being landed in remote rural locations, where there is a lack of essential services; transport and broadband in particular but also local community led befriending initiatives.
“Establishing Statutory Agency-only committees is, in our view, deeply flawed. Many people and organisations wish to be involved and help with integration and making families feel welcome. Furthermore, development workers and interpreters are stretched in terms of resources and could well be supported through voluntary led committees.
“We’re calling on the Departments of Justice and Community and Local Government respectively to mandate and resource Local Authorities to establish welcoming committees in every county. Such a process could be led through existing local government structures and Public Participation Networks (PPNs).
“We are concerned with the lack of resources on the ground, even to deliver English language classes but also to ensure families are made to feel welcome here. We are aware of the potential for negative perceptions to develop, particularly in light of the housing crisis. It is vitally important that we set up local programmes for integration and welcome as families settle within our communities.”
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