Two Lurgan business partners have renovated a property for 20 refugees in anticipation of their arrival before Christmas.
Kieran Maguire said he and his business partner had been working on the property in their spare time for ‘any charity that wanted it’ when the news of the refugee crisis hit the headlines.
He has now asked the Department for Social Development to add the property, in Lurgan town centre, to a list of those aimed for refugees being re-settled in the province, including 100 Syrians expected to arrive next month.
The property has undergone almost three years of work and a ‘five figure’ investment, while Mr Maguire’s business partner, a tradesman, has used his skills to upgrade the rooms free of charge.
The 10 en-suite rooms come equipped with TVs and internet access and there is a communal kitchen area and living room.
Mr Maguire said he was confident the rooms would be available ‘this side of Christmas’.
Around six staff are expected to be employed as cleaners and security guards for the building, although Mr Maguire stressed that security guards had already been sought before the decision to house refugees was made.
He said: “People in Lurgan have been very sympathetic with the plight of the refugees. We had planned to put security staff in anyway. I can’t see it (any trouble). The police station is close by and they will be able to see things happening.”
Sinn Fein Deputy Mayor of Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council Catherine Seeley has been helping with the project. She said they are now seeking volunteers to assist with a range of matters including legal queries and English teaching.
She said: “We are looking to get DSD to cover costs for the first year and I am working with them to do a shout out for volunteers.”