A local Muay Thai club owner says the decision to use their base as refugee accommodation was done behind their backs.
Dylan Meagher, owner and head coach of Courage Muay Thai in Clonmel found out late last week that after 13 years in the hall at the Clonmel Town FC sports club they were being evicted.
He says the club was excluded from discussions around the proposal to convert the hall into accommodation for refugees, leaving them with no base and no relocation plan.
Dylan says that he supports anything that aids the arrival of Ukrainian refugees to Ireland, but feels the building is unsuitable, claiming that there is no sewage system, heating or proper roofing – a claim that has been rejected by members of the Clonmel town Board.
He also says the decision is coming at the expense of the club.
Dylan claims they were excluded from all discussions by the Clonmel Town Board and they have no intention of returning to the premises after securing a location elsewhere:
“We are totally done the bridge has been burned on our behalf. We have been there for 13 years total, I always thought we had a good relationship and they always assured us that as long as we were there we were sound that was our home, we would have been all for it I would have voiced these grievances with the people involved in this decision had we been included in the conversation. But, now I believe the bridge has been burned and we’re not going to go back there ever again.”
He says that even though they are now elsewhere he will continue to campaign to see refugees housed in an appropriate accommodation.
In response to this the council made this statement to Tipp FM:
Last Wednesday Tipperary County Council was asked to set up a temporary Rest Centre for displaced Ukrainians awaiting onward journey to more permanent accommodation.
At very short notice, the committee of Moycarkey-Borris Community Centre in Littleton generously offered their centre, and this centre was quickly transformed into a temporary Rest Centre by Tipperary Civil Defence for 57 persons under the direction of Delores Fahey and Anthony Graham.
Tipperary County Council staff, supported by a voluntary translator and the local community, converted the centre into temporary accommodation, and provided a Tipperary welcome with food, laundry, security and information on services to the Ukrainian people. Most of the group were mothers with 24 children – and all with very distressing stories relating to the impact of the war – for instance, one young man had just learnt that his entire family had been killed the night before he arrived.
On Tuesday, this group moved into semi-permanent accommodation in Co Clare, and on leaving the centre they expressed their sincere thanks to the people of Littleton for their hospitality and support at this very difficult time. Tipperary County Council has been advised to expect another 50 – 60 displaced Ukrainians this weekend again in Littleton. Council staff with the support of the local community will again work over the weekend to make this group welcome, and to manage the Rest Centre facility for as long as is required. Appropriate activities and supports for the families and individuals will also be rolled out while they rest in Littleton.
The Council has also been tasked to set up another Rest Centre – this will be the Dr Pat O’Callaghan Centre in Clonmel. The Council engaged with the committee in the Centre and the committee have very generously agreed to allow their facility to be utilised for the purpose of an emergency rest centre for the displaced Ukrainian families. It is proposed to engage the centre for a minimum period of 3 months (similar to Littleton) and it is hoped that it will be ready for occupation in two weeks plus. The management of the emergency accommodation for displaced Ukrainians is moving at a very fast pace and all local authorities have been asked to set up emergency accommodation to try and meet the immediate basic needs until such time as more permanent/semi-permanent accommodation can be sourced.
To date, government departments and Tipperary County Council have accessed and sourced emergency accommodation in hotels, B&B’s and available holiday homes. We are now at the stage where we have to move to utilise local communal facilities which are immediately available. The council is contacting local committees that manage local community halls (which have the appropriate facilities) and who may be in a position to assist. We would like to sincerely thank those committees who are willing to work with us and are very grateful for their support us in this humanitarian disaster.
Tipperary County Council is very aware that the utilisation of these community halls will displace the activities that take place in such centres and which are really important to the local community. The council has pointed this out to committees so that their deliberations are well informed. We are also more than willing to work with the displacement of such groups to see if we can assist in their relocation and we would very much welcome any contact from other clubs/facilities in both the Littleton and Clonmel area and beyond who may be able to provide temporary support in hosting these displaced activities and address this deficit.
The Ukrainian war has placed unforeseen demands on all aspects of Irish society and the Council wishes to acknowledge and genuinely thank the communities in Tipperary who have stepped up to the challenge and who have taken hard decisions to assist the County in doing its bit to address the basic humanitarian needs of these families fleeing war.
The Clonmel Town Board also issued a response to the claims made by Meagher as follows:This is a statement on behalf of Clonmel Town Football Club.
We are responding to a crisis situation and like many community organisations we are making sacrifices to assist with the Ukraine refugee crisis.
Clonmel Town, Clonmel Athletic Club and other users of the Dr Pat O’Callaghan Sports Complex are all making sacrifices to assist in this effort.
None of Clonmel Town’s 600 members will be using the complex building once the Ukrainian refugees are using the facility.
As you are aware our premises are used by the community and not for business related activities.
We offer our facilities at very reduced rates to facilitate other organisations.
We in association with the County Council have informed Courage Muay Thai that we would help them seek alternative accommodation.