Business leaders and service providers in Killarney are calling for more communications from State agencies before more refugees and asylum seekers are moved there.
Concerns have been expressed that essential services, including medical care, are already at snapping point and the town is struggling to cope with the demand.
Killarney Chamber of Tourism and Commerce and the Killarney Asylum Seekers Initiative (KASI) are demanding that the International Protection Accommodation Services (IPAS) and other State agencies keep Killarney fully briefed on their intentions before any further transfer of refugees or asylum seekers is even contemplated.
Chamber President, Niall Kelleher says the town was delighted to play its part when agreeing to accommodate Ukrainian refugees fleeing the war, but it’s dreadful necessary support services haven’t been put in place.
The chamber says while Killarney has probably the highest ratio of refugees and asylum seekers per head of population in the country, there’s been little or no communication from IPAS, government departments, or the non-governmental organisations sourcing suitable accommodation.
The chamber acknowledges there’s growing concern locally that State agencies seeking to house refugees and asylum seekers are merely identifying available beds in Killarney.
It adds there seems to be very little thought going into providing the related professional services required, particularly access to medical services, school places, and support systems.
The Killarney Asylum Seekers Initiative (KASI) – which provides support services to asylum seekers and refugees – says it doesn’t have the staff or the space to cope with demand, and there’s a complete lack of communication from the agencies involved.
Chairperson, Sheila Casey says people are queuing on the street waiting to be seen, but KASI only has four staff and very inadequate office space.
In terms of medical care, local GPs have said they can no longer accept new referrals to ensure they can provide a safe service to existing patients.
Kerry Independent TD, Danny Healy-Rae raised the issue the Dáil also, saying there must be a cap put on the numbers of refugees and asylum seekers, as Killarney is full.
He says there’s more to looking after these people than just giving them a bed and roof over their head.