A priest in the Co Kildare town where Syrian refugees are arriving welcomed displaced Iraqi people at Mass at the weekend. Parish Priest Fr Liam Merrigan said he was happy to make the generous gesture to ensure that the new residents felt welcome to the community. The former Hazel Hotel in Monasterevin is expected to house 520 people fleeing from war-torn Syria while the disused Magee Barracks in Kildare town may also be used as a location. Fr Merrigan told KildareNow: "I was aware that an Iraqi family was attending Mass in St Peter and Paul Church and I made a point of welcoming them." He added: "Our ancestors had to leave Ireland in the past and were forced to make a new life in a strange country. "So it's only natural that we should welcome anybody who comes to our community through no fault of their own." Tanaiste Joan Burton said yesterday that Ireland could accept up to 5,000 refugees under a refugee programme rather than through the Direct Provision system.
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