As the 24.7 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.
A spokesperson for the people on the vigil outside the hotel told Midwest News on Friday that they had not had any communication, despite promises, from Minister Flanagan or his dept since the decision was taken to postpone housing the 13 women asylum seekers at the hotel at the end of last month(October)
Midwest News today contacted local TDs, Senators and councillors to ask about their engagement with the department on the planned facility.
We began by leaving messages for the four TDs in the county, FG’s Enda Kenny and Michael Ring, and FF’s Lisa Chambers and Dara Calleary.
Minister Michael Ring returned my call saying the first and last he heard from the Dept of Justice about the planned emergency accommodation centre for Achill was on the Tuesday, Nov 5th after the Bank Holiday weekend in October. At that time he says, he set up a meeting with the local councillor in Achill and community representatives in Achill and officials from the dept of Justice and he said today that he has not heard or talked to anyone from that since.
FF Deputy Lisa Chambers has sought updates and clarification from both Minister Flanagan and Stanton, since early November on plans for the accommodation centre in Achill but has failed to get a response other than an acknowledgement of her request being received.
She says from the start communication on the government’s plan for the Achill Head Hotel has been difficult to elicit
Deputy Dara Calleary says he has not heard from the dept since the end of Oct. He says he was in contact with it at that time re need for community engagement.
We also left messages with the 5 senators in the county, SF’s Rose Conway Walsh, FG’s Paddy Burke, John O’Mahony and Michelle Mulherin, and FF’s Keith Swanick,
Senator Swanick responded saying he hasn’t heard from the Dept of Justice at all.
Senator Mulherin says she is not aware of any engagement.
Senator Conway Walsh says from her attempts to get clarification from the dept, it would appear it is the only party not willing to engage in finding a solution to this impasse and Senator O'Mahony says he has had no contact the with Dept.
We also contacted the 7 west Mayo county councillors
Cllr Peter Flynn said he hadn’t heard a thing, Cllr Johno O’Malley said no one contacted him in relation to the centre in Achill, Cllr Sean Carey said the dept of Justice has not been engaging with him. Cllr Christy Hyland also responded saying he had had no engagement.
And there’s been no response as yet from cllrs Gerry Coyleand Brendan Mulroy
Achill-based Fianna Fail Councillor Paul McNamara told Midwest News this afternoon that he’s in constant contact with the Department on this issue, but all contacts have been initiated by him.
Councillor McNamara says he rings the Department at least every second day, and sometimes daily, looking for an update on their plans to accommodate asylum seekers in Achill, but is repeatedly told that “no decision has been made yet”.
Councillor McNamara has also asked if department officials would meet with the local community in Pollagh to discuss the issue, but he says that request has been turned down.