Tom Gilligan, director of housing services at Mayo County Council.

95 people to come to Mayo under refugee resettlement plan

NINETY-FIVE people will be coming to live in Mayo under the Refugee Resettlement Programme over the next seven years.

The scheme is phase two of a programme that to date has primarily brought Syrian people to live in local communities.

The programme includes wraparound services such as education, language classes and employment to help families integrate, and Mayo County Council is currently preparing a funding application for submission to the department.

Every local authority is involved in the programme, and the target given to Mayo between now and 2030 is to resettle 95 people.

The people settling here will be eligible for local authority housing.

Director of services Tom Gilligan explained that it is a separate programme to what the council is dealing with in terms of asylum seekers and the Ukrainian people, and phase one has proven very successful.

It is a totally separate cohort of people.

Under the first round, people coming here were assessed at refugee camps before arriving here.

Councillor Michael Kilcoyne asked what was being done for people who were already here, and those who are in emergency accommodation. Were new people under this programme getting priority, he asked.

Mr. Gilligan said anyone under threat of homelessness is a priority. Refugees from the war were not eligible for social housing, he pointed out.

The cathaoirleach of the council's housing committee, Councillor Patsy O'Brien, said there has to be communication with communities and investment in support infrastucture.

Councillor Christy Hyland said in his previous career as a garda, they would visit non European people and register them and establish their identity and help them integrate.

Doing this would alleviate fears in communities and he called on the Department of Justice to have this done.

Councillor Kilcoyne said there are people in the country and we don't know who they are. There are over 100 deceased people in morgues who can't be identified, he pointed out.

He was also concerned that resources are not being put in place to help people coming here, such as interpreters or special needs assistants in schools as well as medical services.