Local people in Listowel say they will protest weekly against plans to turn the old Presentation Convent in the town into a centre for migrants and asylum seekers, citing concerns over safety, lack of services, and an existing homelessness crisis.
A public meeting in the town last week, organised by parents and students attending the Presentation primary and secondary schools, heard concerns about the proximity of the proposed centre to the schools.
The Convent building was closed nearly a decade ago, and it being proposed as a migrant centre. While it has been suggested that it will only house Ukrainian refugees, locals fear that the authorities could “direct the transfer of large numbers of adult men to the site once operational”, the Kerryman reported.
The government chose another Kerry town, the famed tourist spot Killarney, as a base to accommodate more than 3,000 migrants, including those from the Ukraine.
Before Christmas, the Mayor of Killarney, Cllr Niall Kelleher, said that services were now overwhelmed and “at a tipping point” because of the huge numbers.
In early January, 8 men who were being accommodated with hundreds of other migrants in Hotel Killarney were arrested and charged after a stabbing spree at the direct provision centre.
Listowel: no sign of the protests abating around the country despite the NGOs overtime march in Dublin. We can't house the world. pic.twitter.com/y0T6S7UsVh
— Near to Far (@NeartoFar1) February 21, 2023
The local people in Listowel expressed fears that the government would act to house migrants in large numbers in the town without consulting the community.