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Achill protestors suggest counter proposal


RESOLUTE Protestors at the Achill Head Hotel in Pollagh on Achill Island.

Edwin McGreal

Locals protesting against the use of an Achill hotel as an emergency Direct Provision centre have floated a counter proposal in a bid to resolve the impasse. They say they would ‘love to explore’ the Community Sponsorship Ireland (CSI) scheme, a refugee resettlement scheme that is being rolled out nationwide.
Protests at the Achill Head Hotel in Pollagh on Achill Island are today (Tuesday) commencing their fourth week of around-the-clock protests against plans for the use of the hotel as an emergency Direct Provision centre.
Thirteen women were due to arrive on November 1, with a further 25 people, consisting of family groups, to arrive the following week.  
However, on October 31, the Department of Justice and Equality said it would not go ahead with the plans while an ‘ongoing protest’ remained in place.
In a statement issued this week, protestors take issue with the suitability of the location, the ‘lack of information’ throughout from the Department and what they say are their concerns over ‘the appalling treatment that genuine asylum seekers are subjected to when waiting for refugee status’ in Ireland.

Resettlement scheme
Last Friday, the Minister for Immigration and Integration, David Stanton, invited towns and villages across the country to consider getting involved in the CSI initiative following a successful pilot programme with five refugee families who have settled in Cork, Waterford and Meath.
The Pollagh Community Group, which represents locals protesting at the Achill Head Hotel, stated they ‘would love to explore it further and speak to the department about undertaking it if the parish of Achill decided it was something we could look at for the island’.
“The Pollagh Community Group welcome the recent announcement by Minister David Stanton about the national roll out of the Community Sponsorship Ireland (CSI) scheme. We feel that it ties in to the offer already made by our local councillor (Paul McNamara) to the department of housing families and single females in homes across Achill.
“The CSI scheme is a wonderful initiative to help families who have been granted refugee status to integrate into communities and to give those applying for the scheme an opportunity to prepare for welcoming these families and ensuring full access is readily available to services which they will need support from,” they stated.
CSI, which works successfully in Canada and the UK, gives private citizens and community-based organisations an opportunity to directly support a refugee family who are newly arrived.