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07th Apr 2023

Fine Gael councillor tells President Higgins to house refugees in Áras

Rory Fleming

President Higgins refugees

Mayo councillor Tom Connolly claims refugees are being “bulldozed” into rural communities.

Fine Gael councillor Tom Connolly has told President Michael D. Higgins to house refugees at Áras an Uachtaráin, following the President’s advice to the Irish population around “embracing inclusion”.

The comments were made at the monthly meeting of Mayo County Council, at which the Councillor remarked;

“I hear Michael D Higgins saying we should embrace inclusion. Fine, I have no problem with that but he has 95 rooms in Áras an Uachtaráin. Did he take in many Ukrainians?”

Councillor Connolly went on to add that refugees were being “bulldozed” into small communities without any proper consultation with local residents.

President Higgins had recently urged the Irish public to “embrace inclusion”. (Credit: Rolling News)

Wanting to stress that he was not opposed to welcoming refugees into rural communities, the Fine Gael politician remarked “There are over 300 (refugees) in Claremorris and there will be another 112 when the modular homes are up and running”.

However, Mr. Connolly also stated “If there is any more (refugees) there will be uproar, there is no question about it. We have taken our share and so have other parts of the county”.

The Councillor went on to express his belief that more government TD’s are not speaking out on the topic of refugees for fear of being “dubbed racist”.

Hundreds of protesters gathered outside Leinster House on Saturday to contest the lifting of the eviction ban. (Credit: Rolling News)

Party colleague Jarlath Munnelly was another who weighed into the debate on Tuesday, when the Killala Councillor stated that “almost 50 international refugees arrived to holiday cottages in the town (Killala) last Friday without any prior knowledge of the community”.

“People are not racist just because they want information about what is happening in their communities”, Councillor Munnelly added.

The comments made by the Fine Gael Councillors add to the contentious atmosphere surrounding the coalition government, who this weekend faced large-scale protests as a result of their decision to lift the Eviction Ban.

President Higgins is yet to comment on Councillor Connolly’s remarks.

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