Asylum seekers to begin moving into Letterkenny’s new Direct Provision Centre from today.
The first group will be settling into the Port Road accommodation centre over the weekend, and it is hoped that they are given a warm welcome.
Among the new residents are those who had been living in emergency accommodation in Portsalon since July 2019.
Up to 300 asylum seekers will eventually be accommodated in the former student accommodation complex which is now managed by Bridgestock Care.
Thomas Pringle TD and Senator Eileen Flynn expressed their hope that residents will get the support they need to feel at home.
Deputy Pringle said: “The response from many volunteer support groups and local people has been very warm and extremely positive, since the arrival of these families was announced in November. I hope our new Letterkenny neighbours will feel very much at home.
“Donegal Welcomes is one of a number of support groups formed locally to welcome our new members of community, as much as current Covid-19 restrictions allow.”
Senator Flynn said: “We know ourselves in Donegal how difficult it has been for our own relatives and friends over the years to make a life for themselves in a different country. We can use that understanding to help people settle here and become part of our Donegal community by giving them a warm welcome.
“People from different countries have brought so much to our communities in Donegal,” she said.
Deputy Pringle and Senator Flynn said the Government must keep its commitment to end the system of direct provision for people in the international protection system.
Minister Roderic O’Gorman published a White Paper last week that anticipates all direct provision centres will close by the end of 2024, to be replaced by a new system of accommodation and supports.
Deputy Pringle said: “While the sentiment in the White Paper is welcome, it does not propose any legislative provisions to make sure this happens.
“What we have now is still a developer-led accommodation solution, and we need to get away from that,” he said.
Senator Flynn said: “We can do better and we must do better than direct provision. We must make sure individuals and families who come to our country are treated with dignity and respect. Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.”
Deputy Pringle and Senator Flynn said that because of Covid-19 restrictions, they could not host the kind of welcome for the families that they would have liked. But they said their offices will be available for the new Letterkenny residents to contact them.