Belfast Telegraph

Plans to house 130 asylum seekers in Leitrim put on hold following protests

The group said they will protest against the plans to house 130 asylum seekers in Ballinamore until the plan is withdrawn

Ballinamore Community Group is holding 24/7 protests against plans to house 130 asylum seekers (Gordon Hughes/PA)
Ballinamore Community Group is holding 24/7 protests against plans to house 130 asylum seekers (Gordon Hughes/PA)

By Aine McMahon PA

Plans to accommodate 130 asylum seekers at an apartment complex in Ballinamore, Co Leitrim have been postponed, a group against the proposal has claimed.

The Ballinamore Community Group began a 24/7 protest outside an apartment complex in the town on Monday in opposition to plans to accommodate the asylum seekers there.

Group representatives met Minister of State David Stanton and Department of Justice officials on Thursday afternoon.

In a statement, the group said: “In what was a robust and positive meeting with full engagement by both sides, the minister has now agreed to pause the department’s plans in relation to the provision of an asylum centre in Ballinamore.

“The minister, having heard the serious and justified concerns as communicated to him, now intends to liaise further with his department and officials in the coming days and, following that, to communicate with representatives of the community before anything further arises.

“The minister gave an unequivocal commitment to the representatives that nothing further will be progressed while he now considers the options open to him.”

When the department was asked to confirm if the plan has been paused, a spokesman refused to deny the group’s claims.

A Department of Justice spokesperson said: “Minister Stanton welcomed the opportunity to have an exchange of views with elected and community representatives from Ballinamore yesterday. He will reflect on issues discussed and is looking forward to further dialogue taking place.”

Group spokesman Gordon Hughes told PA media: “The peaceful silent demonstration which has been ongoing, will continue 24/7 until our concerns are addressed.”

On Tuesday, Mr Hughes said the group are not against immigration, but the current direct provision system for asylum seekers is broken and does not meet their needs.

He said Ballinamore has a population of 900 people, and the planned number of asylum seekers it is proposed are housed there is not proportional to the size of the town.

The Department of Justice has also faced resistance to opening new direct provision centres, with arson attacks at hotels in Moville, Co Donegal, and Rooskey in Co Roscommon, earlier this year.

PA

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