Newbridge residents protest site chosen for modular housing for Ukrainian refugees – The Irish Times


Some residents of Newbridge, Co Kildare gathered at the planned site for 30 modular homes to house displaced Ukrainians on Saturday, before marching to town hall to peacefully protest the planned construction.

“We’ll block off builders if they come in. We’ve got community watch in place morning and night now…if they try to sneak in we can stop it,” Noreen O’ said. Shea, a leader of the LHD Action Group, which includes affected residents in the Lakeside Park, Highfield and Dara Park areas.

“We plan to stop that, we don’t let these modular homes into our estates,” she said.

Tom McDonnell, another leader of the group behind the protest, has pledged to continue weekly until concerns are heard. “We will be here every Saturday until we have an answer. It’s not the last, it’s the first,” he said.

Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Inclusion and Youth, Roderic O’Gorman, came under heavy scrutiny during the protest, with locals directing their anger at the TD Green Party, which they say ignored their concerns. “It’s ironic that it’s the Green Party, that Roderic O’Gorman is behind this, taking away our green spaces,” Mr McDonnell said.

Mr O’Gorman and the Public Works Office met with Mr McDonnell several weeks ago to discuss his concerns, but he was not satisfied with their response.

Mr. O’Gorman, whose department is responsible for housing Ukrainian refugees, and the OPW met several weeks ago with local officials, including Mr. McDonnell. But Mr McDonnell said he was unhappy with their response. Mr. O’Gorman had previously said, following that meeting, that he had informed residents’ groups that he, his department and the OPW would “carefully consider” their concerns and see if there were “way to respond appropriately to these concerns”. .

A petition with twelve pages of signatures from residents was sent to Mr. O’Gorman, outlining the reasons for opposing the site. Among them were the removal of valuable green space as well as accessible routes into the town center for residents with disabilities, and the lack of spaces available for GPs and schools.

The main concerns of many locals are the flooding problems that have plagued residents for years, caused by a lake that could overflow in the chosen park. “The site is just totally unsuitable for modular homes, people who already live there can’t get flood insurance,” said fellow resident Jennifer Quinn.

For around an hour, protesters urged residents to join their march along the road, which wound its way through the affected housing estates and stretched for a kilometer from the main street of Newbridge.

Accompanied by signs such as “Green Party Stealing Our Green Gear” as well as a loudspeaker chanting “save our green”. the march was flanked front and rear by Garda vehicles to handle the traffic involved.

Fianna Fáil councilor Noel Heavey spoke alongside community leaders at the town hall, stressing his support and empathy for Ukrainian refugees, but reinforcing the site’s inadequacy.

“I know a lot of people here are pro-Ukrainian and have great empathy for what these people have gone through… But building modular homes in a place where sewage comes in through the doors… That’s the right idea in the wrong place,” he said. “I admire the leaders who have come forward at this time to stand up.”

Mr. O’Gorman’s department has been contacted for comment on the protest.

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