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Support services ‘must be in place’ in Ballybane for asylum seekers


From this week's Galway City Tribune

From this week's Galway City Tribune

Support services ‘must be in place’ in Ballybane for asylum seekers Support services ‘must be in place’ in Ballybane for asylum seekers

Government guarantees of sufficient support services on the east side of Galway City have been demanded by a local councillor following a decision to locate 130 international protection beds in the area.

In a letter to the Minister for Children, Equality, Diversity, Integration and Youth (CEDIY), Cllr Declan McDonnell said every effort should be made to avoid placing additional strain on Ballybane, which he described as “one of the most deprived areas of Galway City”.

Cllr McDonnell said shortages in school places, healthcare and accommodation needed to be addressed by Government.

In the correspondence, the Independent councillor for Galway City East said the briefing note sent to councillors from the Department stated that they would work closely with the HSE to facilitate the provision of healthcare to international protection applicants.

“Existing medical card holders are already experiencing difficulty in accessing GP services, because of a shortage of doctors . . . with other healthcare services also under pressure.

“The Department cannot dismiss its obligation to ensure that dedicated extra resources are put in place in order to avoid creating further hardship for the existing population. Simply providing medical cards for another 130 people in this neighbourhood helps neither them nor the people of the area,” said Cllr McDonnell.

As revealed by the Galway City Tribune last week, a one-year contract has been signed to provide accommodation for families seeking international protection at the formerly vacant Ballybane Neighbourhood Village Centre on Castlepark Road from March 20.

In his letter to the Minister, Cllr McDonnell said this was in an area bordered by electoral divisions classified as ‘very disadvantaged’ or ‘disadvantaged’ in the Pobal Deprivation Index 2022.

“With one of the highest levels of local authority housing in the city (18.7%), Ballybane is an area with higher-than-average unemployment levels and a higher-than-average proportion of lone-parent families.

“The 2022 Census shows that Ballybane has among the highest population densities in the city, with a total population of 13,453 population, of which almost 3,700 or 27% are non-Irish citizens,” he wrote.

Many people seeking international protection had been accommodated in the area already, said Cllr McDonnell, but there had not been a commensurate increase in resources locally.

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