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Travellers take on council over Syrian family fleeing war

Cois Abhann
Cois Abhann

A Syrian family, fleeing from their war-torn home were confronted by a family of angry Travellers when they finally reached their new home.

The McDonagh clan were outraged that the refugees were being given priority by Mayo County Council.

Gardai were called to the Cois Abhainn estate off the Turlough Road in Castlebar on Tuesday.

The Traveller family then launched a protest outside the local Council offices and handed a petition to Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s office in Castlebar.

“They are protesting because a vacant house, which has been vacant for some time, is being occupied by a Syrian family when some of their own family members have been on the list for ages, years, and haven’t been housed,” said local councillor Michael Kilcoyne.

Kilcoyne added that “these people coming from Syria, they deserve to be looked after, but it’s not clear even what funding has been allocated by the Department towards doing that”.

Mayo County Council is committed to accommodating a total of 17 Syrian refugees over the coming weeks, four of whom have already arrived in Castlebar and are housed.

Members of the McDonagh clan called for their housing needs to be given priority over “foreigners”.

“We’re Irish citizens,” said Jason McDonagh

“I don’t see why they won’t give us accommodation in Castlebar where we are from.”

Teresa McDonagh said she had her name down for the house but claimed the council told her the estate’s quota for Travellers had been reached.