Sinn Féin spokesperson on Equality, Youth, and Integration, John Brady TD, has described the government’s announcement to bring forward a ‘special support package’ for the ten areas with the highest number of refugees and asylum seekers as “an arbitrary exercise designed to allow government to distract from their failure to plan and properly resource communities over the last number of years”.
Teachta Brady said:
“We need a full assessment of the needs of communities which are currently hosting or where it is planned to host significant numbers of refugees and asylum seekers. The erosion of services in these communities has been ongoing for decades to the point that the situation is endemic across the state.
“The much-touted special support package which the government has promised to introduce for the ten areas with the highest number of refugees and asylum seekers is an entirely arbitrary proposal.
“There has been no meaningful assessment of the service and resource needs of local communities carried out in any area in the state.
“A pre-assessment of the needs of communities must become the norm at the planning stage to place refugees and asylum seekers there, to ensure that the needs of both the community and new arrivals are met.
“The government has just come up with a figure of ten areas out of thin air. They have no measurement of the existing levels of service in these areas, no sense of the impact of the numbers of refugees and asylum seekers on the area, or how the impact can be measured in areas with already low or non-existing levels of services, but who perhaps have lower numbers.
“There is a lack of GP services, a lack of dental services, a lack of Gardaí, a lack of mental health services. These are all being compounded by the current recruitment embargo in the health service, alongside funding cuts in Budget 2024.
“The government needs to carry out a full assessment of the needs of areas, and to put together a comprehensive plan to ensure that the level of services is provided to local communities.
“Many communities have been given false promises from the government regarding the provision of additional services for their areas. These commitments are normally given after the arrival of refugees and asylum seekers in the area, but they never materialise. This cannot be allowed to continue.
“While we welcome any increase of funding which provides for additional resources for communities, it is clear from this most recent announcement that the Government have failed to deliver a credible and workable plan for the past number of years.
“This has led to increased tension and division and there can be no further delays from the Government to produce and deliver upon a comprehensive plan which supports and resources local communities.”