A number of councillors on the Causeway Coast and Glen Council have spoken out after if was revealed that the area could be used to house Syrian Refugees.
Overnight graffiti with the words ‘SYRIANS NOT WELCOME’ has been written on a toilet block at the West Strand in Portrush.
Writing on social media following the graffiti, a UUP Councillor said;
“Syrians not welcome in Portrush apparently… Suppose they have it cushy back at home don’t they?
I’ve been reading the comments on Facebook this week about the above… Shame on those who have whipped up a storm of ignorance and hatred. Not surprised though!! Anything to get your face in the press and a few shares.
There is a VAST DIFFERENCE in helping people who are seeking refuge from a war torn region and letting economic migrants into the UK. No doubt I’ll get slated for writing this.
This isn’t about opening the floodgates, this isn’t about letting terrorists in, this isn’t about giving houses to “foreigners” before we look after “our own”. This is about helping those in need. Sometimes compassion is not recognised until you need it yourself!
The UK prides itself upon being a beacon of morality, hope and Christianity to the rest of the world…. Food for thought.”
UPDATE 6th MARCH
Councillor Darry Wilson has since clarified his previous comments on the Syrians graffiti, adding;
“In 2016 the Syrian refugee crisis was debated in Causeway Coast and Glens Council, I raised the following concerns at the time, and I feel that the Government and Home Office have fallen short in alleviating public concerns by sharing relevant information. I have included my speech from the 2016 meeting which was recorded in the local press:
‘I think we should approach this situation with sympathy and compassion, the United Kingdom Government must be commended in sending almost one billion pounds of aid to those in need in the war torn region, this is more aid than has been distributed by any other EU country or indeed by the wealthy Arab states which surround Syria.
However, I have also been contacted by a number of constituents who have many concerns about the masses of people who are seeking asylum /refuge in western Europe and the UK. The same questions continually arise.
1.Are all of those travelling across Europe and indeed those who are currently residing in camps genuine refugees or indeed economic migrants? Is there a risk of militant extremists / terrorists entering the UK and subsequently posing a threat to our National security?
2.It is my understanding that the UN select who will be sent to the UK from the camps giving priority to women, children and the infirm, I think more information would be useful to help ease concerns.
3.How will an influx of refugees impact upon the lives of the people of the UK , who already face a social housing shortage, an overstretched NHS, not to mention homelessness? In recent weeks we have been told that over 9000 ex servicemen are living on the streets!
4.These are questions which must be addressed with urgency to reassure members of the public, however these questions will not be answered here tonight , they could however be answered by the government in Westminster who are ultimately responsible for the UK’s immigration policy , not Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council “
Prior to the discovery of this graffiti this morning, PUP Councillor, Russel Watton also made his opinion clear on social media saying;
“I have persistently said that no refugee should get housed before locals.I have a long waiting list for locals looking Housing Executive properties.
The Housing Executive made a presentation to the Council a few weeks ago and I told them to their faces that ordinary working people retired or otherwise can’t get housed.Those who work or indeed worked all their lives can’t get housed.
Drug dealers, drug users, alcoholics, those who never worked a day in their lives and those with supposed mental issues are always catered for.
If the private sector wants to cater for these refugees let them do so.
Of course this will be branded as racist – well so be it. This Councillor will not be supporting any measure that allows Housing Executive properties to be allocated to refugees in front of hundreds of needy locals.
I hope this makes my position abundantly clear.”
Previously Sinn Fein had welcomed the housing of Syrians in the area with
Sinn Féin representative Ciarán Archibald has said it is;
“Essential once Syrian refugees arrive in the area that they are supported and have access to all the services they need.”