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Offaly will receive 26 Syrian refugee families

Thursday, 26 October 2017

OFFALY will receive 26 Syrian refugee families in four months' time, a meeting of the County Council was told on Monday.

The refugees will arrive in the county as part of the Government's commitment in September 2015 to accept 4,000 people.

This commitment was in "direct response to the humanitarian crisis that developed in southern Europe following unprecedented levels of migration from areas of conflict in Africa and the Middle East", said the council's director of services, Frank Heslin.

The Department of Justice recently informed the council about Offaly's share of the refugees and they will be accommodated in the county under the Irish Refugee Protection Programme.

Ireland's intake will is a combination of refugee resettlement from Lebanon and a relocation of asylum seekers from Greece and Italy under EU Council decisions established to help those states.

Offaly County Council will set up an inter-agency resettlement working group, chaired by Mr Heslin.

Mr Heslin said the group will "plan and prepare for the arrival of the families and assist with their initial orientation and integration into Offaly".

Approved housing bodies will arrange and manage accommodation "as appropriate to the needs of each family", Mr Heslin added.

"The intention is to house families in different parts of the county, subject to the availability of school places and public transport," he added.

The chief executive of the County Council, Anna Marie Delaney, said the inter-agency group will comprise representatives from Social Protection, the Health Service Executive, the Education and Training Board and others.

The group will link in with schools and education programmes, said Ms Delaney.

"A number of counties are at this stage at the moment and we will receive some funding from the Department of Justice under the EU asylum programme for the employment of a resource worker and supports for integration and orientation," added Ms Delaney.

The formal announcement about the refugees came towards the end of the October monthly meeting of the County Council on Monday evening.

Earlier the council discussed the matter in private and it is understood that some concerns were raised in relation to the provision of accommodation for the refugees.

In February 2014 nine family units, with a total of about 31 refugees, were accommodated in Tullamore under a previous resettlement programme.

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