NORTH Clare residents will be ‘resentful’ to the Syrian families arriving in Ennistymon at the end of this month, according to a local councillor, who has cautioned that welcoming the fleeing refugees could fuel anti-social behaviour in the area.
Some nine refugee families, numbering 45 people, from war-torn Syria will be relocated to Ennistymon before the end of this month, Clare County Council has confirmed — becoming the second group of families from the treacherous region to move to the Banner County in less than a year.
Ennistymon based Councillor Bill Slattery, Cathaoirleach of West Clare Municipal District, said that while he does feel for families who were forced to flee from war-torn Syria, families in North Clare should be looked after before such a high volume of refugees are accommodated in Ennistymon.
Mr Slattery said, “I’d express concern over the local people on the [housing] waiting list for the last nine or 10 years and we’re shouting from the rafters for the last three or four years especially that there’s no houses for our own and people are resentful in the North Clare area that these people will be looked after and get priority.
“People have come up to me and said ‘you’re right for being concerned and thank you for sticking up for the locals, as against giving priority to the Syrians’.”
Mr Slattery added that he feels local people are entitled to feel resentment over the situation.
“There will be resentment and I’d say I don’t blame the local people that are on the housing list eight or nine years with three or four children for that type of resentment for not looking after our own.”
He also warned that anti-social behaviour is already a huge concern in Ennistymon and introducing so many refugees could add to this.
While urging local people to be welcoming to the Syrian families he added, “That bit of resentment is going to be there and it’s going to be difficult take it away because we already have a lot of social problems in Ennistymon.
“We have a lot of anti-social behaviour in Ennistymon, we have a lot of problems in our schools.
“A lot of our kids in the area have gone out to country schools and there’s a reason for that and I wonder is this going to add to it more.”
“I hope that these people respect our principals and our way of life.”