Photo credit: UNDP Ukraine (CC BY-ND 2.0 https://bit.ly/3cE4sDB)

2,500 refugees pack Killarney: adding 25% to number living in town 

A local councillor and medical practitioners in Killarney say that the town has “done enough” after the number of Ukrainian refugees and other migrants claiming asylum in the town grew to more than 2,500. 

Killarney has a population of 10,363 according to the most recent Census. The new arrivals, with hundreds arriving in the past week alone, mean that the population of the town has grown by 25% in just over 6 months.

The Irish Examiner reports that local town councillor Niall O’Callaghan had “raised fears” over Killarney’s ability to manage such large numbers, saying the Kerry town is “struggling to cope with the rapid influx of people”.

“Killarney has done enough,” he said. “We need our town back.”

In common with other decisions by Minister Roderic O’Gorman’s department, people living in the town feel they are not being consulted before direct provision centres are set up, or large numbers of people placed in the town.

Dr Gary Stack, managing director of SouthDoc, told Radio Kerry health that “everything will collapse” if the Department of Integration kept loading people into the town.

He said that the International Protection Accommodation Service (IPAS) failed to give notice to health services that 318 refugees were being sent to the town last week.

The doctor told Radio Kerry News that his staff “can’t cope” with providing services to the patients they have, after taking 150 new patients earlier this year when 1,000 Ukrainians were placed in Killarney.

The practice was at full capacity, he said, and it was upsetting for staff to turn people away.

“Killarney is not the place to open up what appears to be a new reception centre. It does not have the facilities they have in CityWest,” Dr Stack said. “We have to stop at this stage.”

“If we keep loading numbers in, everything will collapse.”

Cllr O’Callaghan told the Irish Examiner that the tourist economy, on which Killarney is heavily reliant, was being undermined on a long-term basis as hotel beds were not available

“The Government has created this problem in Killarney and we need financial support,” Mr O’Callaghan said.

Last week, Minister O’Gorman beat a hasty retreat from part of his decision to move 135 Ukrainian women and children who had been staying in the Hotel Killarney since last March to Mayo to make room for 192 men who had come from Libya, North Africa and Georgia.

However, while the Ukrainians remained in Killarney, the men claiming to be asylum seekers were also placed in the town. 

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