Updated: 13/03/18 : 13:32:57
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Far-right activists accused of hijacking Lisdoonvarna concerns on asylum seekers

Far-right activists have been accused of 'hijacking' the concerns of locals in Lisdoonvarna as asylum seekers move in.

The first group of 30 asylum seekers took up residence in a new Direct Provision centre in the north Clare town yesterday.

115 people are due to be accommodated in total, but some locals have argued that the figure is too high for the size of the town.

However, recent days have seen some leaflets and posters with 'anti-immigrant sentiments' appear in the town.

Fianna Fáil TD for Clare, Timmy Dooley, said: "I'm more concerned that [the leaflets] muddy the waters.

"I know the people of Lisdoonvarna, they have absolutely no tolerance whatsoever of the behaviour of these outside, agenda-driven, anti-immigrant people who really have a poor understanding of what humanity is all about.

"What unfortunately it does, it brings a negative image on a welcoming people."

The Fianna Fáil TD says locals are prepared to welcome the new arrivals.

He explained: "Towards the end of last week, a number of individuals from outside of the area - my understanding is that they came from Dublin - went to Lisdoonvarna and started to distribute anti-immigrant, anti-migration literature... the kind of sentiments that are generally associated with far-right groups.

"That's unfortunate, because the people of Lisdoonvarna are anything but unwelcoming to anybody who comes to their town."

Deputy Dooley acknowledged that locals have 'rightly raised concerns' about the suitability of the location and the numbers of asylum seekers coming to a village with a population of only a few hundred people.

He observed: "I spoke with many of the groups... they were more than happy to take 30 or 40 if they thought they could accommodate them... Unfortunately, then, [the concern] has been hijacked by others."

The Clare TD added: "People who spoke to me privately said 'the problem we really have here is, if we say anything about what is proposed we're going to be branded as racist and anti-immigrant'. It's unfortunate at a time like this that people can't express legitimate concerns, while at the same time being very clear that they will welcome and they will adequately work to help these people who've come through very difficult circumstances."