Plan In Place For Local Community To Help Syrian And Iraqi Refugees In Tralee

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Norie O'Connell, Samuel Kiwanuka, Mary Carroll, Caroline Doyle and Mairead Egan at the 'Befriend a Refugee' information night Tralee International Resource Centre. Photo by Gavin O'Connor.

Norie O’Connell, Samuel Kiwanuka, Mary Carroll, Caroline Doyle and Mairead Egan at the ‘Befriend a Refugee’ information night Tralee International Resource Centre. Photo by Gavin O’Connor.

AROUND 30 or so people crammed themselves into a room at the Tralee International Resource Centre (TIRC) on Monday evening looking to help Syrian and Iraqi refugees who have recently come to Tralee.

There are 81 refugees from Syria and Iraq in Kerry. Twelve families are located in Tralee, four in Killarney and three in Killorglin.

In the coming months it is expected that six more families will arrive in Kerry.

Located in Boherbee, TIRC are calling on members of the public to ‘Befriend’ refugee families in town so that they can begin their lives in Ireland.

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The idea is to create a support network for the families so they can live, work and study in Ireland and become part of the community.

“It’s one of the biggest reactions of anything we’ve ever done,” said Mary Carroll of TIRC. “This is something you can do for real and really help,” she added.

The families are made up of young and old and began arriving to Tralee at the end of last year, they live in estates dotted around the town.

“It’s definitely improving for them. English is a big problem, they attend classes in the Kerry ETB and they call in here (TIRC) and we support them. People are great, their neighbours are helping them as well,” said Mary.

Any interested ‘befrienders’ will get training from TIRC which will prepare them for any issue that may arise and provide them with the necessary skills to best help out.

“There might be four or five ‘befrienders’ with each family and they might all provide different things. Some might help the family with English and others will drive them somewhere,” said Mary Carroll.

“The fact that it’s a small amount of families makes it easy for us to organise it,” she said. .

After arriving in the country, Syrian and Iraqi refugees first go to Department of Justice ‘orientation centres’ where they receive any medical attention should it be required, along with aquainting themselves with the basics of living in Ireland.

From there it is decided which towns and cities the refugees will call home. While in Ireland, they are afforded the rights of an Irish citizen, that includes the right to work and social welfare payments. They are not in direct provision.

Many of the Syrian and Iraqi refugees who have arrived in Tralee have third level qualifications. Across all the families, there is great motivation to enter the workforce.

“They are all entitled to work and they all will be working, it’s just about getting their English up to speed. Some can begin working very soon,” said Mary Carroll. “It has been very positive. You can see the interest here tonight was massive, everyone here is coming with good intentions and wants to help.”


  1. Matty O'Leary says:

    LOL, Is there no social housing crisis, rising housing rents or homelessness in Ireland! Obviously, the politically correct TD’s think other countries citizens come before Irish citizens.

  2. More in their line to go away and help our own homeless first with the huge housing crisis going on in this country !! These people obviously have nothing better to do and i would say they are pretty two faced… your own people first and then help everyone else i say !! We have a massive housing problem in this country and here we have this lot helping people from god knows where !! DISGRACEFUL