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“People afraid to walk the streets”: anger as migrants appear to harass women in Killarney

A local councillor in a Kerry town which has seen its population increase by more than 30% as the state places huge numbers of migrants and asylum seekers in the town has said that local people are now “afraid to walk the streets”. 

While Killarney has hosted Ukrainian refugees since the beginning of the crisis, and there was an outcry last month when Ukrainian families were told they had to move to Mayo at short notice to make way for asylum seekers from other countries.

As reported on Gript previously, there has been a surge in people from countries that are not experiencing war, such as Nigeria and Albania, coming to Ireland after it was announced that anyone claiming asylum would be guaranteed own door accommodation after 4 months and other supports and benefits.

While the decision to move Ukrainian families was reversed, some 217 male migrants from Libya, North Africa and Georgia were then housed in a Killarney hotel.

This week, a video of young males seeming to harass local women has gone viral on social media. They also engaged in threatening and abusive behaviour when a local man stepped in.

Cllr Marie Maloney told a meeting of the Killarney Municipal District this week that: “I know for a fact that there are people actually afraid to walk the streets or walk down along the road. I’m not being dramatic. I’m telling you the truth.”

Her comments were supported by another councillor, Dónal Grady who told the Killarney Advertiser that: “They [the new arrivals] are the ones causing all the trouble. They are not respecting our town. There are people afraid to walk down the Park Road.”

“Since the arrival of the most recent group of International Protection seekers locals have expressed their concerns for their own safety,” the Killarney Advertiser reported adding that several readers had contacted the paper with the same concerns.

The local authority meeting this week heard that the town needs to face the reality of whether it will continue as a major tourist centre or become a direct provision and refugee centre.

The huge numbers of migrants and asylum seekers in Killarney has now exceeded 3,200, with the famed Co Kerry town previously having a population of just 10,360. Up to 40% of the tourist beds are now being used by the state to provide accommodation to newcomers, the Killarney Municipal Meeting was told

“Is Killarney next March going to be a major tourist destination or a direct provision centre? Big accommodation providers in Killarney are going to have to be asked that question,” the Independent councillor Brendan Cronin said.

Local businesses fear that tour operators will cease to see the town as an attractive destination when so many beds are now not available – and they are angry that the government did not consult locals before sending busloads of migrants and refugees.

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