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Concerns raised as Mountrath in line for a newly designated Emergency Accommodation Centre

A local County Councillor has expressed his concerns regarding a Mountrath property being offered as an Emergency Accommodation Centre.

The six councillors in the Borris-Mountmellick Municipal District were informed recently in correspondence from Laois County Council.

The correspondence stated that notification has been received from the International Protection Accommodation Service (IPAS), outlining that a property at Portlaoise Road, Mountrath, has been identified for the programme, with capacity to accommodate 36 persons.

Cllr James Kelly believes the property should not be considered or included in the programme for accommodation.

“I have already expressed concerns to the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth regarding the fact that this property has been offered,” the Mountrath-based Independent councillor said.

“The terms and conditions of the agreed Exempted Development with IPAS states that as the property is not zoned commercial or retail, and is zoned residential, the owners will have to apply for planning permission.

“I also cannot comprehend how a residence that was a home for one family is now been classed as suitable for 36 persons which on my information could expand to 54 persons.

“I support and have no issue with taking in people who are fleeing war and conflict. I do not support an open door policy.

“This current policy is making it harder to provide for local people who become homeless or are a long time on the local authority housing list.

“While this has been stated as an offer of accommodation, there are also major concerns with the people of Mountrath regarding the capacity of the town to cater for 36 persons, which going by similar situations in other towns and villages nationally, has become a big problem.

“Mountrath’s health centre is at maximum capacity with a long waiting list for health care, at the moment. There is no community centre or hub in the town and the only evening time recreation is the snooker hall with two tables.

“Nationally there is a secrecy about these accommodation centres. A lack of information and consultation with local communities which can give an opportunity for misinformation to flourish.

“I have had numerous conversations in this county with the central theme been that owners of these accommodation centres are only in it for the profit and not for the good of the refugees or the local towns, villages and their residents,” Cllr Kelly concluded.

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