The 1,000-plus population of Cahersiveen, Co. Kerry, have united to block a planned government move to transfer Ukrainians who have integrated into the community in the past year.
A group called “the concerned people of Cahersiveen and the wider south Kerry community” says the local community will be devastated if the decision to move 80 Ukrainians from the town is implemented.
A “pause” has been put on plans to move Ukrainians from their lodgings in the town to make way for what government officials have called international protection applicants.
Letters to quit arrived to 80 Ukrainians last Friday and the first transfers were due on Tuesday, but local protests forced the delay.
There are around 220 Ukrainian refugees under a temporary protection order at the Skellig Accommodation Centre, which includes hotel and self-catering apartments for family units and singles in the south Kerry town.
The Department of Children, Equality, Youth and Integration, which is involved in organizing accommodation for the 75,000 Ukrainians who have fled from the war in their country to Ireland, said there was “a severe” shortage of accommodation for international protection applicants also known as asylum seekers.
Stephanie Mahey, of the group campaigning to keep the Ukrainians in Cahirsiveen, told RTE Radio that the proposed move would damage the backbone of the area’s workforce and emotionally devastate everybody.
She said, “The Ukrainians are our friends, they’re our community. They’re the local hairdresser, the people working behind the till in the shop. Our kids are their classmates. We go to each other’s birthday parties. They’re on the same GAA teams. Some of them, I'll tell you now, are going to be great GAA players.”
Mahey said no adequate reason had been given for the transfer decision and she could not see how it would make sense to force people to start again.
Speaking on the same program, Ukrainian resident Liliia Orevchuk said she was told on Friday that she and her family were to move from the town but they “100 percent” wanted to stay because her two children are settled in their school.
Orevchuk said that she, her mother, husband and two children are starting to build their new lives in Cahersiveen and do not want to move. “We are starting to integrate in the community,” she said “People want us to be here and we want to be here.”
The Irish Examiner reported that Integration Minister Roderic O'Gorman confirmed that no Ukrainian residents would be moved on Tuesday, pending “further consultation on the matter.”