Fire breaks out at Kildare facility intended to house Ukrainian refugees

Emergency services were alerted to the blaze “in a shed” at the back of the Kill Equestrian Centre, Kill shortly after 8pm on Sunday

Kill Equestrian Centre. Photo: Google Maps

Neasa CumiskeySunday World

Gardaí are investigating after a fire broke out at a premises intended to be used as accommodation for Ukrainian refugees in Co Kildare on Sunday evening.

Emergency services were alerted to the blaze “in a shed” at the back of the Kill Equestrian Centre, Kill shortly after 8pm on Sunday, November 6.

Personnel from Naas Fire Station were dispatched, while assistance was required from Newbridge Fire Brigade to bring the fire “under control”.

It is understood that no one was injured in the fire and the scene remains reserved for examination as investigations continue.

The premises had been the sight of a protest earlier that day.

A garda spokesperson said: “Gardaí and local fire services were alerted to fire in a shed at the rear of premises in Kill, Co Kildare, shortly after 8pm on Sunday 6th November 2022.

“A protest / demonstration held by group of people outside the same premises earlier in the day, passed off without incident.

“There were no reports of any injuries and the fire was quickly brought under control by fire service personnel. The scene is preserved for examination. Enquiries are ongoing.”

On Friday night, a crowd of locals gathered for a meeting to discuss proposals to turn the equestrian centre into temporary accommodation for around 350 Ukrainian refugees.

Residents have raised concerns over the proposals in recent weeks, citing a lack of sufficient local resources in the small village as a “recipe for disaster”.

Fine Gael councillor Fintan Brett, who is also the mayor of Kildare, said the premises “was being prepared for housing refugees” but locals have been kept in the dark about plans.

“About a month ago, the Department of Equality and Integration contacted Kildare County Council about using the equestrian centre a step down centre for refugees,” Brett told The Journal.

“Kildare County Council told them the site was totally unsuitable, do not use it, it is not fit for purpose. But it seems that the department decided to go ahead on it.

“Three weeks ago, I told the department that if they were going to go ahead, please keep me and the community leaders in the village informed so that there’s nothing being done in secret.”

However, Brett claims that locals last week “discovered that a huge amount of work was done in it”.

“It’s absolutely unforgivable that people weren’t told and that an attempt wasn’t made to bring them along with the proposal for the village and this is the consequence of that.

“There is a whole fear-factor that should have been dealt with, local people should have been informed about it and the community leaders in the village should have been involved in this.”

He added: “This would have allowed them to take the lead in ensuring that Kill did its piece to help the Ukrainian refugees, which an awful lot of people want to do in the village, and yet here we are with the village name blackened forever with this fire.”

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