The community of Achill believe the dept of Justice has failed them and the people seeking asylum on the island from tomorrow.
13 female asylum seekers will be the first of a group of 38 asylum seekers, to take up emergency accommodation at The Achill Head Hotel tomorrow.
That was confirmed by officials from The Department of Justice and The Reception and Integration Agency at a meeting yesterday evening in Achill, with representatives from the Achill community and local councillor Paul McNamara.
The meeting had been sought by cllr McNamara to get more information / clarity on the approval of Emergency Accommodation being provided on the site of The Achill Head Hotel in Keel.
Midwest news sought to speak with councillor McNamara following last night’s meeting, he declined to be interviewed, but referred us to the statement on his facebook page, published this morning.
He says the meeting opened with the community outlining that it feels forgotten about and let down throughout this process, stating that the lack of communication and consultation with the local people is appalling.
During the course of the meeting the community delegation questioned the department officials on the many aspects of the contract which is in place at present.
They were informed that the proprietor of The Achill Head Hotel expressed interest in using the hotel for Emergency Accommodation in January of 2019. In September a site visit was conducted, this involved an official from the department visiting the hotel, during this visit the official did not look at the services in the Pollagh area.
The contract was signed after this visit.
When questioned on the criteria that needs to be met in order to provide emergency accommodation on the site of The Achill Head Hotel the officials stated the only criteria needed was 'bed and board.'
The community delegation requested a copy of the contract along with the report that was written after the site visit which deemed The Achill Head Hotel suitable for Emergency Accommodation.
The contract is in place for three months. Once this contract expires the proprietor of The Achill Head Hotel can reapply every three months to continuously provide Emergency Accommodation.
A department official stated that The Achill Head Hotel cannot become a Direct Provision Centre, as it does not meet the criteria of 'independent living.'
Tomorrow, the 1st of November, 13 females will arrive to The Achill Head Hotel in Keel. During a two week period after this, the remaining 25 asylum seekers will arrive. They will consist of families.
The cllr’s states, that as of now ,the department has failed to provide any extra services to facilitate the needs of the people availing of The Emergency Accommodation. In regards to children, as of now, no local schools have been consulted.
He claims that during yesterday’s meeting- it became apparent that the department officials knew very little about Achill. They confirmed that none of the three officials present had ever visited The Achill Head Hotel. This information,he says, came as a shock.And goes on to state: We believe The Department of Justice has failed the community of Achill along with the people seeking asylum. We requested these officials visit The Achill Head Hotel and the village of Pollagh, prior to leaving the island.
He says -the community relayed to department officials yesterday the consensus which the community reached at the public meeting last week. That is, we are happy to integrate asylum seekers looking to start a new life into their villages and local schools in a different manner.
He concludes saying , that as a community, we are deeply disappointed that we were not afforded the opportunity to do so.