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Confrontation at 'No To Racism' rally in Rooskey

The rally follows Monday night’s fire at the Shannon Key West Hotel, earmarked for asylum seekers.

Rooskey anti-racism rally Protesters clash at today's rally in Rooskey. Source: Niall Carson/PA Images

ANTI-RACISM ACTIVISTS were confronted today at a rally in the small village of Rooskey on the Roscommon-Leitrim border.

Following Monday’s fire at the Shannon Key West Hotel, a group gathered in the village this afternoon and were met with opposition from a woman who accused the organisers of portraying the village as racist. 

Photographs online show those taking part in the rally filmed by a man and confronted by the unidentified woman.

Leah Doherty, of Leitrim and Roscommon United Against Racism, has said that while today’s rally was interrupted by “a certain element…we were there today to condemn the recent arson attacks on the hotel and to say that we will be welcoming the asylum seekers if the government forces them to live in Direct Provision in Rooskey villlage.”

The Shannon Key West Hotel, which was due to accommodate asylum seekers in the coming weeks, was targeted for the second time in a month on Monday evening by people whom Gardaí suspect planned the fire days beforehand. 

The most recent fire has been condemned across the political spectrum with Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan expressing “grave concern” at the most recent development. 

Gardaí in the area have said that they believe those responsible for Monday’s fire may have been in the area and prepared the attack days beforehand.

It is understood that those responsible for the fire may also have monitored the movements of people leaving and entering the hotel in the days leading up to Monday night’s fire.

Rooskey anti-racism rally Shannon Key West Hotel, Rooskey Source: Niall Carson/PA Images

Today’s rally was addressed by, among others, Lucky Khambule of the Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland and by MEP Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan, who criticised Ireland’s Direct Provision system.

The government’s Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) has been criticised in recent months over plans to accommodate asylum seekers in remote locations like Rooskey, and without proper local consultation. 

Ireland must comply with the EU Reception Conditions directive, however. Accommodation for asylum seekers is sourced on a demand-led basis, the Department of Justice has said. 

Ireland’s 38 Direct Provision centres are, however, currently at capacity. Although the department continues to tender for more permanent centres, a tender last month for additional emergency accommodation was issued as a result of a fire at a hotel in Moville, Co Donegal and the first Rooskey fire in early January. 

Separate to the 6,162 people living in DP centres around Ireland, there are currently 195 people living in hotels and B&Bs in the Cavan-Monaghan area, according to RIA.

Since early January, a further 134 people have sought international protection in Ireland and are now living in emergency accommodation in Dublin, Louth and Waterford following a tendering process for further emergency accommodation by the department. 

Monday’s fire in Rooskey is likely to further hamper RIA’s plans to accommodate asylum seekers in the more permanent Direct Provision system. 

According to a department spokesperson, “severe pressure” is being placed on RIA due to the rise in the number of applicants for international protection in Ireland. 

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