Politicians praise local community’s response to refugee crisis

Alderman Mark Cosgrove and Tommy Mooney loading supplies bound for the refugees in Calais, France. INNT 36-210-AM
Alderman Mark Cosgrove and Tommy Mooney loading supplies bound for the refugees in Calais, France. INNT 36-210-AM

SDLP Councillor Noreen McClelland and UUP Alderman Mark Cosgrove have praised the work carried out by a local group of volunteers in response to the refugee crisis in Europe.

The Newtownabbey Calais Refugee Society was formed last week to collect donations of clothing and other necessary supplies, which will then be sent to the stranded refugees throughout mainland Europe.

The group organised its first drop-off centre in the Mayfield Community Hall on Sunday (September 6), with Councillor McClelland volunteering her time to help out with the campaign.

“I have been working with them over the weekend and I am so impressed by the determination and effort of everyone involved,” she said.

Both Glengormley representatives are pleased by the remarkable community spirit which has been evident throughout the campaign.

“The community spirit was unbelievable. People came from across the borough to leave donations, pack boxes and add their support to the campaign. It was remarkable,” Cllr McClelland added.

Alderman Cosgrove shared these sentiments saying: “There has been a tremendous community response to the heartbreaking scenes witnessed over the past few weeks. I would like to pay a particular tribute to the Mayfield and Ballyduff communities.”

The leadership team of the Newtownabbey campaign was praised by both representatives.

“A tremendous word of thanks goes to the coordination of Deirdre Mathews, who along with Helen Callaghan and Austin Tanney have been working round the clock to ensure the donations are sorted, boxed and delivered,” Cllr McClelland said.

“The leadership shown by Helen Callaghan, Deirdre Mathews and Austin Tanney deserves a special mention. They have set up a 1,000-like Facebook page in a matter of hours, and so overwhelming was the response that we now have over 500 boxes and bags, with extra storage being required at such short notice. That just shows what communities can achieve when working towards a common goal,” Ald. Cosgrove added.

Cllr McClelland thanked everyone for getting behind the campaign, but acknowledges that there is still a lot of work to be done.

“Well done to everyone, it was a tiring weekend but very rewarding. There is still work to be done, but with so many people so committed we will continue to give our best efforts and together we will succeed in meeting the needs of so many desperate people,” she said.

Meanwhile, Mallusk transport company Redhead International has agreed to provide extra storage for donated items as and when it is needed over the coming weeks.

• Read related story - Newtownabbey community bands together to help refugees