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Lismore House Hotel Google Maps
Asylum Seekers

Residents in Lismore protest against use of town's refurbished hotel for direct provision

Over 200 people reportedly gathered yesterday for a demonstration in the west Waterford town, arguing that the building had been earmarked for tourism.

LAST UPDATE | 30 Jan 2023

RESIDENTS OF A Co Waterford town have demonstrated against the conversion of a long-empty hotel into a direct provision centre.

Over 200 people gathered yesterday for a demonstration in Lismore arguing that the building had been earmarked for commercial use for several years.

The centre is to accommodate 117 asylum seekers beginning with 69 women and families in the coming days.

Locals have said the Lismore House Hotel was the main tourist accommodation provider in the west Waterford town until it closed in 2016 and its economic and tourism hopes were pinned on the hotel.

Local Labour party councillor John Pratt said “transparency has been absolutely appalling” around the use of the hotel, adding that first contact made with locals over the new use was when Aramark, which will be managing the centre, contacted local Pratt and other elected representatives.

“The reality is like it’s not about the asylum seekers coming to Lismore, but it is the hotel that is the centre of the town,” he told Morning Ireland on RTÉ Radio One.

“It’s probably a 10% increase in the population of Lismore in one fell swoop, where GP services and other services are already under pressure, like even the locals are finding it hard to get GP appointments as at this stage. So I suppose I think it’s not (that the asylum seekers are) opposed, I think it’s more about the location.”

He added that “direct provision isn’t working” but told RTÉ Radio One that he did not go to yesterday’s protest out of concern that the far-right would be “rail-road” the demonstration.

He said the local residents are a “very brilliant organisation” who arranged a “peaceful protest”, adding: “There is no racism here. They have genuine concerns about a town that they’ve lived and as I said, there are economic reasons as to why the hotel opening would be so beneficial to not alone.”

Integration Minister Joe O’Brien he said he believed the community in Lismore were not concerned about the asylum seekers coming to live in the town, but the “loss of this totemic building” in its centre.

Accepting that the information on the use of the hotel didn’t “come as promptly as is ideal”, the Green Party TD said Ireland still obligations to meet under international law and shelter people fleeing torture and oppressive regimes.

“Direct provision is not ideal. We have committed to abolishing it in this programme for government,” he told Claire Byrne on RTÉ Radio One.

“I would just reiterate we are in a war situation, we need to be able to offer people shelter. It’s a bit unfair I suppose that we’re pointing at Lismore, I know there are similar situations across the country as well.

“We need the help of communities across the country to fulfill our obligations as a state.”

O’Brien added that the department is working on the integration strategy to “engage in a more fulsome manner” with communities.

Speaking on the same programme, Sinn Féin’s David Cullinane said Waterford TDs including himself only received information on the hotel last Friday despite requesting it for several days.

He said he believed that locals were in favour of “alternative buildings” being used in place of the Lismore House Hotel, which has now had its use changed due to a “commercial decision”.

“The frustration as well in this instance that this is a town with lots of vacant properties,” he said, with people preferring to see it reopen for tourism rather than as a reception centre.

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