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Fears family home to house 44 asylum seekers in rural Clare
Local authority says accommodation required for ‘emergency’ use is out of their remit
The latest vacant property tipped to become an accommodation facility for asylum seekers in Clare is a family home outside Corofin.
The property sits at the top of a hill at Scool, about four miles from Corofin. Locals understand that 44 asylum seekers are to be housed there. The six-bed house has a detached shed, which has also been kitted out with beds, as has the walk-in wardrobe off the master bedroom.
The location is a remote hill-top site on a narrow lane in a warren of country roads between Corofin and Inagh. This is a rural farming area and the property sits opposite an existing family home.
The six bed property has a high stone wall and tall metal gates, which were closed this morning and held shut with a piece of galvanised wire.
A public meeting about the future of the property takes place tonight at Toonagh, Corofin at 8pm.
In response to a query from this reporter today, the local authority stated that a ‘Change of Use’ planning application required for the property to be run as a commercial enterprise is not required in ‘emergency’ situations.
However, the official at Clare County Council planning department did not know which emergency use planning measure was applicable in this instance.
A written query has been submitted to the planning section seeking clarification.
In March 2022 the Journal.ie reported that the Irish government would use emergency planning powers to accommodate people ‘fleeing Ukraine.’
It is worth noting that ‘people fleeing Ukraine’ is the umbrella term for all refugees arriving under the Temporary Protection Directive invoked by the European Commission in March 2022.
It provides for ‘Ukrainian nationals and residents and their family members, as well as non-Ukrainian nationals and stateless people legally residing in Ukraine who cannot return to their country or region of origin (such as asylum seekers or beneficiaries of international protection), and their family members.’
The Journal quoted Junior Minister Damien English, who has since resigned his post, over a planning controversy.
Damien English said Ireland’s ‘longer term response’ to the war in Ukraine would see various types of accommodation used including ‘vacant properties.’
“We will be looking at vacant properties, we’ll be looking at hotels and other forms accommodation, temporary accommodation, and more structured accommodation,” he said.
‘Change of Use’ under existing local authority planning measures requires the submission of a planning application with maps and that process takes about eight weeks to complete under normal circumstances.
‘Change of Use’ is not required under Emergency Planning powers for housing new arrivals in Ireland, according to Clare County Council’s planning department.
“If it’s for an emergency they wouldn’t have to apply for planning. And we wouldn’t be involved in it. That would be considered emergency housing and they wouldn’t have to apply for planning,” the planning official said.
However, when asked for the correct title of the Emergency Planning measure to be utilised in this situation the planning official did not know and asked for a written query via email.
This was submitted and I will update once a reply is furnished.
Readers might be interested in this exchange between myself and the planning official:
Question: “An Irish citizen or any citizen that applies for planning permission has to jump through various hoops. The government can come in and over-ride all of that?”
Warm thanks to those that continue to support my work, it is much appreciated.
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