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asylum dispute

Ballinrobe hotel 'initially ear-marked for adult males' will house 'families and children', Dept says

The Department of Integration confirmed that the hotel would be used to provide temporary shelter to International Protection applicants.

THE DEPARTMENT OF Integration has said that the hotel in Ballinrobe, in Co Mayo at the centre of a protest over asylum seeker accommodation will now house “families and children” despite previously being ear-marked for adult males.

The disused hotel has been the site of an ongoing protest since Friday night after councillors were informed last Thursday about plans to use the hotel to provide accomodation for 50 men seeking international protection.

One local councillor in the area, Fine Gael’s Michael Burke, stated on social media on Saturday that he had been reassured by the owner of JJ Ganon’s Hotel that the lease agreement offered to the Department had been withdrawn.

In response, the Department had said that discussions were ongoing with the owner. An around-the-clock protest outside the premises that began on Friday was continuing today.

Speaking today on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, local Fianna Fáil Councilor Damien Ryan said that there were concerns locally about “lead-in (time), lack of communication, lack of consultation and resistance in relation to the male denomination. 

In a further statement today, the Department said that the plans are proceeding but that the make-up of people due to stay there has changed due to “an acute shortage of accomodation” for families.

“The Department’s contract for accommodation in Ballinrobe to provide temporary shelter to International Protection applicants in JJ Gannon’s Hotel is proceeding. It is intended that up to fifty people in need of shelter will be accommodated at the premises,” the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth said in a statement.

While initially ear-marked for adult males, there is now an acute shortage of accommodation for families and children and it is now intended to place families into this property over the coming days.

The Department also confirmed that information on the planned use of theaccommodation was first issued to local TDs, Cllrs and Senators last Thursday 4 January.

The Department added: “Emergency centres such as this one in Ballinrobe have been opened in all parts of the country. There have been over 190 accommodation locations utilised since January 2022 across 26 counties.

These options must be considered to prevent homelessness for people arriving seeking international protection.

“The situation in relation to accommodation for International Protection applicants remains extremely challenging, and the Department does not have enough accommodation to offer to many newly arrived IP applicants at present.”

Previous estimates have outlined thatover 450 people who have arrived in Ireland seeking international protection in recent weeks have been offered no accommodation, and some are sleeping rough.