‘Syrian refugees welcome in NI if UK Govt foots the bill’ - McNarry

Scottish government minister Humza Yousaf on Monday October 5 during a visit to the Greek island of Lesbos, where thousands of refugees arrive daily on their journey to Europe. Photo: @HumzaYousaf/PA Wire
Scottish government minister Humza Yousaf on Monday October 5 during a visit to the Greek island of Lesbos, where thousands of refugees arrive daily on their journey to Europe. Photo: @HumzaYousaf/PA Wire

David McNarry has said refugees are welcome in Northern Ireland – as long as Westminster foots the bill.

The Ukip NI leader made his comments after deputy first minister Martin McGuinness revealed that the first group of people fleeing Syria could arrive in the Province by December.

Mr McGuinness said it was an effort to help resolve the humanitarian crisis, and that we should “extend the hand of friendship” to those who were suffering.

Initially a group of between 50 and 100 displaced people will be accommodated with others arriving in phases.

He told MLAs during Question Time at Stormont on Monday that he was “comforted and pleased” at the level of cross party support for the initiative.

It is understood the UK Government would meet the first-year costs for accommodation and other support – estimated to be upwards of £6 million over three years.

Prime Minister David Cameron said the UK could take up to 20,000 Syrian refugees over the next five years.

Mr McGuinness, who has previously said Northern Ireland could accommodate up to 2,000 refugees, also called for a strategy to improve the bureaucratic difficulties.

However, Mr McNarry said the accommodation of refugees should be a temporary measure only. “I welcome Northern Ireland playing its full role in assisting in delivering the national quota of Syrian refugees coming to the UK,” he said.

“I would hope to meet these refugees on arrival or when they have settled in. They are our guests until they return home as and when it is appropriate.

“Of course this quota comes at a cost which Northern Ireland cannot afford to pay, the cost for 400 refugees over the next few years is estimated at over £6 million by Martin McGuinness. I expect Westminster to foot this bill in total.

“It is incumbent on the Executive to keep the public fully informed about the refugees. They need to be safely accommodated, fed, educated and looked after in terms of health.”

Mr McNarry added: “The relationships between the refugees and the public need to be handled sensitively. The numbers and costs makes one wonder how Mr McGuinness would pay for 2,000 non-selected migrants he wanted to take in. They would cost an estimated £30million.”