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Moville community galvanised to help following arson attack at hotel being prepared for asylum seekers

The Inishowen Together group said it was a “hateful and cowardly act”.

Locals gathered in Moville last night.
Locals gathered in Moville last night.
Image: BAUKE-ROOF

A LOCAL ACTIVIST group in Donegal has said whatever the perpetrators who started a fire in a Moville hotel thought they were achieving, have failed. 

A fire broke out at the Caiseal Mara Hotel on Foyle Street at around 4.30am Sunday morning. More than 100 asylum seekers were meant to live in the hotel.

The incident has been condemned by Minister for Justice and Equality Charlie Flanagan yesterday who said it was an arson attack. 

“I condemn this attack and those behind it in the strongest possible terms. This was a despicable incident and could have led to very serious tragedy.”

Gardaí have said they are appealing for witnesses in their investigation into “all circumstances” around what could have caused the fire.

‘Hateful act’

The Inishowen Together group said it was a “hateful and cowardly act”.

However, they said the response from the local community has been resoundingly positive, hundreds of people gathering at their community meeting last night to affirm their support, solidarity and to welcome for the asylum seekers who will be arriving in the town in the coming weeks.

caiseal-mara-390x285 The hotel in Moville where a fire broke out over the weekend. Source: Google Maps

The meeting sought to “illuminate the realities of the Direct Provision system”, said Inishowen Together, as well as to offer ideas and advice on how the community can prepare in order to do its best by the new Moville residents.

There was a united stand in solidarity with the refugees from the town’s religious communities at last night’s meeting. 

Garda representatives also attended the meeting and assured the people of Moville that the force was doing its level best to get to the bottom of the incident. 

The community meeting was also addressed by activist Lucky Khambule of the Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland, and artist and researcher Vukasin Nedeljkovic of Asylum Archive.

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Local meeting 

Inishowen Together group said Lucky and Vukasin gave insights to locals about what it is like to have “your life placed on hold” as an asylum seeker in Direct Provision in Ireland.

“Having heard their insights into the dismal system by which our State fails to offer a genuine welcome or real home to people escaping dire circumstances, we can see that having open hearts is not enough. We will also need watchful eyes to hold the government to account.

“We need to ensure the best provision, while appealing for an end to Direct Provision and the introduction of an immediate right to work without restriction,” said the group in a statement following the meeting. 

BR2763 Siobhan Shiels (Inishowen Welcomes/Inishowen Together), Tracy Cullen Sheehan (Fáilte Inishowen), Methodist Rev Alison Gallagher, Lucky Khambule (MASI), Vukasin Nedeljkovic (Asylum Archive) Source: BAUKE-ROOF

Lucky and Vukasin also gave the locals examples of the effectiveness of simple kindness to asylum seekers. 

It’s believed the meeting has galvanised the local community, with many volunteering their time to help in welcoming the new residents to Moville.

“The dark and alarming act that happened hours before has galvanised the community of Moville to show what we are really made of; that this is a beautiful town of compassion and openness,” said the local activist group. 

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