A Fianna Fáil councillor has voiced concern at the lack of consultation with locals in a North Mayo village where it is proposed to accommodate a large number of Ukrainian refugees,
Cllr Michael Loftus raised the issue at last Wednesday’s meeting of Ballina Municipal District when he said locals in Ballycastle were telling him that 80 refugees are to be moved into a state-of-the-art 48-unit hostel in the village.
Director of Services with Mayo County Council Tom Gilligan, who is in charge of housing refugees, confirmed that 50 Ukrainian nationals are to be moved to Ballycastle.
Cllr Loftus questioned whether a place the size of Ballycastle could accommodate such a large number of refugees.
“There’s only one shop, one post office… are the facilities there to deal with another 50 people coming into the town? I’d just worry about that,” he asked.
Mr Gilligan said he believes the capacity is there to accommodate the refugees.
“I believe the services are there, but we don’t have the full details yet. That will be further down the road, we don’t know how many of them will be children,” Mr Gilligan said. “Nothing has been finalised yet, but we do want to go forward with it because we are in dire need of accommodation.”
Fine Gael Cllr Jarlath Munnelly urged council management to engage with the local community.
“As soon as there is information, engage with the community right away because there’s the best way to get anywhere. It’s really important,” Cllr Munnelly advised.