Cllr Clifford Kelly making a point during the meeting as Cllr Paddy McDonald listens intently and Glen Clarke (standing) organised and chaired the meeting.

‘Concerns’ raised at public meeting in Kingscourt

Some locals in Kingscourt have expressed concerns about the potential arrival of more International Protection Applicants to the town.

A public meeting was held on Monday evening to air their views. It was organised by Glen Clarke, who is behind the ‘Kingscourt Says No’ campaign. The meeting heard from Mr Clarke as well as local representatives Cllr Clifford Kelly (FF) and Cllr Paddy McDonald (SF).

Mr Clarke told those gathered they were there because of “fear of the unknown”.

Speaking to the Celt afterwards, he said: “There is fear of not knowing who any of these people are,” he explained.

“Then there are the different stories that are going around the country about things that are happening...”

want those things to happen in our town, in fact we don’t want it happening anywhere but, if they keep coming, then the more chance there is of these things happening.”

Mr Clarke claimed that rented accommodation in the town has been purchased and “turned over for refugee accommodation”.

“People are coming here with no documentation and that is causing concern for people,” said Mr Clarke, before adding “If people arriving here don’t have a passport, they should be sent back.”

Mr Clarke contended that those being accommodated at the Dun a Rí Hotel are not from Ukraine. The Celt has contacted the Department of Integration to confirm that status of those already accommodated at the local hotel; and also if it has been offered any other properties in the town; or it has any plans to accommodate further IPAs in Kingscourt.

Meanwhile, Cllr Clifford Kelly told the meeting that the situation in Kingscourt was being replicated around the country and “it’s the mess we are in right across the country”.

“We went through a period - as you are all aware of - when some people were arriving in Ireland, they had no documentation,” he continued.

“That should not have been allowed and it has been highlighted.”

The meeting heard that the purchase of properties and outhouses was recently made in and around Kingscourt town centre. The rumour mill in the area is now pointing to the likelihood of it too being offered to the State for International Protection Applicants.

Cllr Kelly said: “Local people are scared because they don’t know anything about the people that are arriving here. They are afraid for their children who are going to school here and they don’t know what is going on… that is causing a lot of fear.”

The Fianna Fáil councillor was asked from the floor if the people being accommodated in the local hotel had been vetted.

“I don’t know the answer to that,” he responded.

“All these people arriving here… Who’s going to look after them? Their mental health, dentists, medical services, doctors? We are not racist or far right but, because of this Government and what is going on, I will never vote for yous again,” one lady told Cllr Kelly.

Responding to her at the meeting, Cllr Kelly said: “There is absolutely no racism in Kingscourt and there never was.”

Sinn Fein’s Paddy McDonald highlighted how there are “a lot of very genuine people out there with grave concerns over what is happening to our communities”.

“As I have already said before, these people should not be put into rural Ireland where there are no doctors, schools or backup services,” he continued.

“There should be detention centres for those who arrive here without passports. If the necessary documentation is not forthcoming, they should be sent home. There was €30M allocated to employ people in this area but this has not happened and, as a result, it is taking far too long to process their claims.”

International Protection Applicants in Cavan

Total number as of February 11, 2024: 176

Arrivals From: Nigeria, Afghanistan, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Georgia, Algeria, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Somalia, South Africa.

National Total: 6,919 of which 2,097 are children

International Protection Applicant: Also known as an asylum seeker - a person who has left their country and is seeking protection in another country.

Refugee: Someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war or violence.