There have been calls for greater clarity and communication with hundreds of international refugees set to be housed in the former Breaffy House sports arena,
The arrival of the refugees is in addition to around 300 Ukrainians who are being housed in separate accommodation at the Breaffy House Resort.
The former sports arena, which previously served as a vaccination centre during the Covid pandemic, has been repurposed to provide accommodation for close to 200 refugees from all over the globe.
“I have had a few calls in relation to it. Most people’s concerns seem to be around the whole area of Garda vetting,” said Independent Cllr Michael Kilcoyne. “People are also concerned about the impact this might have on hospital and GP services.”
He said the lack of information and consultation from Government is creating problems. A number of weeks ago a controversy arose over the proposed construction of modular homes in Claremorris for Ukrainians fleeing the conflict in their homeland.
“There is a real information deficit here,” said Cllr Kilcoyne.
He said he fears the mishandling of the provision of accommodation for refugees and the housing crisis that has gripped the country will lead to a lack of sympathy for the plight of people fleeing war and other horrors in their home countries.
“The tide is turning already,” Cllr Kilcoyne remarked.
Castlebar-based Fine Gael Cllr Ger Deere said he had also heard concerns about the new asylum centre.
“There is clarity needed. We do need full clarity on issues like Garda vetting to help people feel at ease.”
Cllr Deere said the community council in Breaffy has been working to try and help the new arrivals integrate into the community.
“They are approaching this in the right way,” said Cllr Deere.
He said proper communication will help dispel any misinformation surrounding the issue.
A public meeting has been organised in Castlebar on Friday in relation to the matter.
So far, around 55,000 refugees have arrived in Ireland, with 6,000 securing their own accommodation.
The flow of refugees is not expected to abate, due to Russia’s ongoing attacks on Ukraine. There are now over 2,200 Ukrainian refugees in Mayo, with almost half of them in Castlebar.
The Cabinet agreed last week to only provide accommodation, and no longer meals, for those arriving here. A campaign is also underway to alert Ukrainians to the country’s housing crisis.