Council to offer assistance for Syrian refugees

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Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council officers are to liaise with the Department for Social Development (DSD) on the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Programme.

At a meeting in Mossley Mill on October 26, councillors heard that correspondence from the DSD advised that two groups have been established to take forward the relocation programme for Syrian refugees coming to Northern Ireland.

These groups are a Strategic Planning group led by OFMDFM to consider the strategic issues and local implications, and an Operational Planning Group led by the DSD to address the practicalities of meeting the refugees’ needs.

Council Chief Executive Jacqui Dixon said that at this stage the council was waiting for more information from the Strategic Planning Group and Operational Planning Group.

“When the DSD decide which council areas people will be relocated in they will engage with us directly at that point,” she continued.

“We would want to co-operate with them and respond to any requests that come our way.”

UUP Alderman Mark Cosgrove moved that the Chief Executive and council officers liaise with relevant departments on what arrangements are necessary should there be a request for Antrim and Newtownabbey to assist.

He stated: “I am sure that if a request is made the overwhelming majority of citizens in Antrim and Newtownabbey would want us to respond.”

Seconding Ald Cosgrove’s proposal, SDLP Councillor Noreen McClelland said she “agreed wholeheartedly” with his comments.

“We are dealing with very vulnerable people and we will wait for the department’s operational and strategic info,” she said.

The motion passed unanimously.