Meeting with department to discuss local discontent to take place today
The arrival of asylum seekers to an emergency Direct Provision centre on Achill Island has been further delayed.
Local Fianna Fáil councillor Paul McNamara confirmed to The Mayo News last night that the first group of asylum seekers set to be housed at the Achill Head Hotel on Pollagh will not be arriving until Friday.
The first group were initially due to arrive at the Achill Head Hotel last Thursday. Following a heated public meeting last Wednesday, the arrival date was pushed back to today (Wednesday) but yesterday it emerged it has been further put back to Friday.
It has also emerged that the 38 asylum seekers staying at the hotel will include 13 women. Cllr McNamara was informed by officials in the Department of Justice last Friday that all those arriving would be men.
However, The Mayo News understands that following a meeting with community representatives at the weekend, the owner of the hotel renegotiated the terms of the contract and requested that the asylum seekers include women and families.
A meeting between department officials and community representatives, including Cllr McNamara, is due to take place today. The Mayo News understands the purpose of the meeting is to voice local concerns and seek further clarity on the plans for the use of the hotel as an emergency centre for Direct Provision.
Yesterday (Tuesday) protests recommenced at the hotel with a large group of locals gathered.
Protests had also taken place last Thursday, Friday and Saturday, after news emerged on Wednesday of plans for the hotel to be used as emergency accommodation for Direct Provision.
Cllr McNamara issued a statement at the weekend outlining concerned by some locals following a heated public meeting on Wednesday last.
“The consensus which the people at the meeting came to, was we as a community have absolutely no issues with welcoming people of all nationalities to our community. At present we have people of all nationalities living and working in our parish. However, it was voiced at the public meeting the proposal at present which is to provide emergency accommodation on the site of the Achill Head Hotel is not suitable. We appreciate at present Direct Provision centres and emergency accommodation is the only solution available. This is an ongoing issue both past and present governments have failed to address over the past 20 years,” stated Cllr McNamara.
He moved then to address what he described as accusations of racism against the people of Achill.
“Over the past few days I have received negative comments from people throughout the country labeling our community as racist. I would like to stress we as a community are in no way racist and pride [ourselves] in welcoming everyone to our island. At the meeting it was agreed we stood united on the fact that we are happy to integrate asylum seekers looking to start a new life into our villages and local schools in a different manner. The proposal to provide emergency accommodation on the site of the Achill Head Hotel was brought upon a small village with little to no consideration for the people of the village or to the people availing of the emergency accommodation,” he said.
Another group of locals have set up a welcoming group, to welcome the asylum seekers to Achill.