Achill Head Hotel

  • The Archbishop of Tuam's says the state needs to be fully transparant with locals over plans to house asylum seekers on Achill in Co. Mayo.

     

    Michael Neary's comments follow protests on the island last week over reported plans to house asylum seekers at a hotel there.

     

    However, the Archbishop also says Christians have a responsibility to share with those who are less fortunate than themselves.

     

    He says it's well known, nationally and internationally, that Achill people are a welcoming people and added that we should be alert to those who are experiencing serious upheaval and a crisis of hope in their lives.

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    Councillor Paul McNamara has sought a meeting today with officials from the dept of Justice to voice local concerns on Achill Island and to seek further clarity on the dept’s plan to house 38 asylum seekers at the Achill Head Hotel in Keel.

    20 asylum seekers are due to arrive at the hotel tomorrow (Wednesday) with a further 18 asylum seekers to arrive next week. They are all men.

    Minister Michael Ring has expressed his fury over the lack of engagement with local people on the island over plans for an emergency Direct provision centre in Keel.

    At the weekend, according to  the Sunday Times, Minister Ring was critical of the approach of the dept of Justice. He is quoted as saying “you cannot just bring people in with nothing in place for them. You need to give the community information about what is involved and put in place the necessary services.”

    The paper reported that Minister Ring conveyed his anger to both Minister Charlie Flanagan and David Stanton that news of the development was “everywhere” last Wednesday before he had any information on the plan.

    Minister Ring told Midwest News today that he did not speak to the Sunday Times and has no comment to make on the matter.

     

     

     

  • The Department of Justice has confirmed to Midwest News that a private meeting will take place this evening between Department officials and local community representatives in Achill, in relation to plans for an emergency accommodation centre at the Achill Head Hotel in Keel.

    Meanwhile a 24 hour vigil is being maintained by local residents outside the hotels since yesterday, as they say they are peacefully protesting at the Direct Provision system being operated by the government nationally, and in particular the decision to accommodate asylum seekers on Achill Island without the necessary resources and facilities in place.

    A public meeting on the island last week heard local concerns over the lack of services in the area to accommodate a large number of asylum seekers and refugees, while concerns were also expressed about the suitability of the premises.

    In a statement to Midwest News this morning, the Department has again confirmed that it was offered, and has booked, available beds in the Achill Head Hotel during the low season, as emergency accommodation for those seeking international protection.

    The statement says this is not a Direct Provision centre, and there is no longterm contract in place.

    The contract is for 38 people to take up temporary accommodation at the hotel.

    It was expected that the first group of 20 male asylum seekers would arrive today, with a further group next week, but Midwest News understands that plan has now been delayed.

    Green Party candidate for the next general election in Mayo, Achill-based Saoirse McHugh has posted an update on Facebook, outlining that 13 female asylum seekers will be coming to Achill on Friday.Ms McHugh says the information has come from the hotel manager.

    It's hoped this evening's meeting between Department officials and members of the local community in Achill will clarify the plans.

     

  • As the silent vigil outside the Achill Head Hotel in Keel is continuing, there is as yet, no news on an arrival date for asylum seekers to the facility where the Dept of Justice plans to set up an emergency accommodation centre.

    The dept of Justice has told Midwest News that its officials have been “engaging with public representatives from the area” about the planned facility. 

    The vigil outside the Achill Head Hotel has now been continuing 24.7 since the end of last month (Oct), and so Midwest news contacted the dept of Justice about its plans and asked to speak to the Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan about the situation, but we were told Minister Flanagan was not available.

    Midwest News asked if dept officials were engaging with the community in Achill, as had been promised by Minister Flanagan at the end of last month, when the arrival of the first group of asylum seekers to the hotel was postponed.

    In response the Department of Justice said it had hoped to accommodate 13 female international protection applicants in the Achill Head Hotel for a number of weeks until places became available in a dedicated accommodation centre.  They were to be in Achill for a maximum stay of 3 months.  

    However, an ongoing protest remains in place outside the hotel, so the Department has regrettably decided that, at the moment, to ask the women to move there would not be in their best interests, as they may be vulnerable while awaiting decisions on their protection applications.

    Officials from the Department have been engaging with public representatives from the area

    From that response it would appear that the dept officials are not in any direct contact with the local community but rather with public representatives -  deputies, senators and councillors.

    Midwest News will now contact public representatives today and ask them about their engagement in the plans.

  • Failte Acla will host a coffee morning at 12 noon tomorrow in Keel Hall as protests continue at the Achill Head Hotel.

    Some members of the community began protesting at the proposed emergency accommodation site which was due to house 13 female asylum seekers.

    This comes after the Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan called for the ‘Siege to be lifted’ outside the Keel Hotel.

    A member of Failte Acla told Midwest News they invite those protesting outside of the Achill Head Hotel to come to the coffee morning tomorrow in the hope of bringing the community in Achill back together.

  • Plans to accommodate up to 70 asylum seekers temporarily at a hotel in Achill have been paused, following a public meeting last night.

    Over 200 people attended the meeting in Cashel, which was called at short notice after it emerged yesterday that up to 70 migrants were due to arrive today, and would be temporarily housed in emergency accommodation at the Achill Head Hotel in Keel.

    In a statement to Midwest News, the Department of Justice has explained that, as demand continues to rise, they sought expressions of interest earlier this year for emergency temporary accommodation.

    However, to protect the privacy of applicants and other guests, they do not public identify the emergency accommodation centres, which are provided in hotels and guest houses.

    Following last night's meeting, Achill-based Fianna Fail Councillor Paul McNamara told Midwest News that no final decision will be made on the matter until the Department of Justice liaises with the local community, and he's invited Department representatives to Achill to speak with local residents.

    Councillor McNamara says the main concerns locally are the lack of consultation on plans for the emergency accommodation centre, and the suitability of the hotel for an emergency accommodation centre.

    Joe Daly of Mayo People Before Profit also attended last night's meeting in Achill, and has criticised what he calls the "inhumane" Direct Provision system.