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Plans to house 13 asylum seekers in Achill postponed due to ongoing protest outside hotel

The Department of Justice said the women were only to be in Achill for 3 months.

Image: Google Street View

THE DEPARTMENT OF Justice has postponed plans to house 13 asylum seekers in a hotel in Achill, Co Mayo due to ongoing protests. 

The Achill Head Hotel was earmarked to provide emergency short-term accommodation to 13 women who have come to Ireland seeking international protection.

According to the Department, the women were to be in Achill for a maximum stay of 3 months.

In a statement this evening, the Department said it was disappointing that it has had to cancel its plans due to “an ongoing protest outside the hotel”. 

“The Department has regrettably decided that, at the moment, to ask the women to move there would not be in their best interests, as they may be vulnerable while awaiting decisions on their protection applications.” 

“The Department is disappointed at the continuing protest but it will continue to engage,  in an effort to resolve the situation,” a spokesperson said. 

Officials from the Department had been engaging with public representatives from the area since last week and met last night with elected and community representatives in Achill where they discussed “community concerns”.

Local Fianna Fáil councillor Paul McNamara said that following yesterday’s meeting “it became apparent that the department officials knew very little information about Achill.”  

McNamara said locals believe the Achill Head Hotel is not a suitable location for emergency accommodation.

“We are happy to integrate asylum seekers looking to start a new life into our villages and local schools in a different manner. We as a community are deeply disappointed that we were not afforded the opportunity to do so,” McNamara said on Facebook.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Drivetime Sinn Féin Senator Rose Conway-Walsh welcomed the department’s decision and said the community needs to be consulted. 

“If you look at an island like Achill, you have hundreds of empty houses. Achill is a very welcoming place, people from all over the world come to Achill and have done for decades.

“If they wanted to come to Achill and use those empty houses, people would be welcoming to families and people who would integrate into the community, and they would be more than active in facilitating that,” Conway-Walsh said. 

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Following protests last month in Oughterard, Co Galway, a tender for a permanent Direct Provision centre – due to accommodate 200 asylum seekers – was withdrawn.

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Adam Daly

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