Buckley accused after criticism of immigration

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The Portadown migration row rages on after Alderman Arnold Hatch (UUP) accused the DUP’s Jonny Buckley of “scaremongering and exaggeration” in claiming the town is “swamped” with foreign nationals.

Mr Buckley made the assertion in last week’s Times, adding that there should be a points system for entry into Britain – as in Australia – as distinct from the “free-for-all” that now exists.

He also stated that large swathes of the town were being taken over by the migrant population. He added they were “a drain on the health service, causing increased waiting times in hospitals and surgeries”.

Mr Hatch points out that the town has a migrant population of eight per cent, “and this can hardly be construed as swamping”.

In his full statement, Mr Hatch says, “My article in the Portadown Times on (August 29) was an extract from a NI Strategic Migration Partnership (NISMP) Report and I did point out that Portadown’s infrastructure required improvement to keep pace with the vast changes.

“These include the GP services and our A&E Departments, both incidentally under the control of DUP Minister Edwin Poots. I also mentioned that the town needed more social housing under the DSD and Minister Nelson McCausland (DUP), and this should be provided for the local and migrant population.

“It is also important to note that migration is a function of our Westminster Government, so perhaps the DUP MPs should shout louder over there.”

He added, “I resent Councillor Buckley’s attack on me, a fellow unionist, and the exaggerated language that we are ‘swamped by immigrants’. So much for the plea from the DUP leadership to refrain from such personal attacks on the unionist family.

“It is easy to make to make popular statements. Councillor Buckley needs to be careful not to fuel sectarian and racist hatred in our town which has had more than its fair share of both.”