Portlaoise is to welcome fifty Syrian war refugees, as part of a government programme to help some of the millions fleeing persecution.
The group will arrive in Laois in late October, but they will not be staying at the controversial Montague centre outside Portlaoise, according to Senator John Whelan.
“They will not be going to the Montague as they are not coming into the country as asylum seekers into the Direct Provision system but rather as fully recognised and vetted Refugees under the Geneva Convention and under international agreements with the UN,” he said.
Laois County Council were asked to integrate the group, as part of an international agreement which accepts between 100 to 200 refugees from the UN each year. A further fifty are going to Thurles.
“It is my understanding is the refugees will come to Ireland in late October and after a period of support and orientation in Dublin will then re-locate to begin their new lives in Portlaoise and Thurles,” said the Senator.
It is similar to the welcome given to Vietnamese refugees in 1978.
“Portlaoise took a similar group of Boat People after the Vietnam War, who integrated well and still live happily in the community here,” he said.
Some 3 million Syrian refugees have fled their country. Almost half of all Syrians have been forced to leave their homes by the ongoing war.
There have been protests at the Montague direct provision centre in recent weeks, by some of the 160 asylum seekers there, some who are waiting up to 10 years for asylum.