HOLDING FIRM Protestors march in the rain outside the Achill Head Hotel in Pollagh on Friday last.
Protestors outside the Achill Head Hotel in Pollagh have insisted that they are not being influenced by outside forces.
Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan said on Thursday that far-right influences were ‘infiltrating’ many towns and villages where there was opposition to the opening of Direct Provision centres.
However locals on the ‘silent vigil’ in Achill dispute such allegations.
“Everyone here on the silent vigil is from Achill,” said local woman Kate O’Malley. “The majority are from Pollagh but there are people from every village in Achill standing with us.
“We have a Facebook page and we have stopped people [joining]. If we didn’t know them or they were not invited by someone from Achill, they were not allowed to join. We removed people when we felt the need to do so. If their accounts looked like they were far-right, they were not allowed in the group,” said Ms O’Malley.
Ms O’Malley and Paddy Mulvany were among the locals present at a meeting with department officials and community representatives on Wednesday night last. They contend they learned from that meeting that no assessment of the suitability of the area was conducted and argue the assessment of the hotel’s suitability was inadequate.
They stated Pollagh has a population of just 76 people and poor access to vital services.
Mr Mulvany said locals at Pollagh were happy to welcome asylum seekers ‘in the right manner’.
“Three months rent (as a Direct Provision emergency centre) in this hotel would buy three houses in this area. We would welcome the people that would occupy them houses from any part of the world with open arms to be integrated into our community. We would help them out in every way possible. We would supply them with clothing, we would bring coal to their door, we’d help them with their groceries, we would bring them to our shops to do their shopping.
“But we are standing against Direct Provision. Direct Provision is a flawed system condemned by Amnesty International and the Irish Government think they can just drop off their dirty little secrets in the west coast of Ireland where the people are going to turn around and tell the government straight back ‘listen guys, ye need to fix this’. We will welcome people to this community in the right manner,” he said.