Newstalk
Newstalk

07.24 11 Jan 2019


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Updated 08:30

The Minister for Justice has said the cause of a fire at a hotel in Leitrim that had been earmarked for asylum seeker accommodation is a “matter of grave concern.”

The fire broke out at the Shannon Key West Hotel in Rooskey at around 8pm last night.

Firefighters quickly brought the blaze under control and no one was injured.

The premises was identified as a potential site for a Direct Provision centre late last year – however, an agreement had since been reached to develop a four star hotel on the site.

On Newstalk Breakfast, Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said he was “very concerned” at the fire.

“Of course there is a Garda investigation and I am not going to speculate about the cause of the fire until such time as this Garda investigation takes place,” He said.

“But I would hope that the investigation could be concluded at the earliest opportunity because this is a matter of grave concern.

“This hotel in Rooskey was designated for 80 asylum seekers. The contract was completed.

“Thankfully nobody was in the hotel when the fire broke out.”

Refugees

He said there is a “real human dimension” to the story.

“This hotel premises was designated for vulnerable people fleeing persecution in parts of the world that have been ravaged by real conflict,” he said.

“Many of these people are coming to Ireland seeking asylum in accordance with Irish law and international law hoping for a fresh start in Ireland.”

Racist commentary

He said he is very concerned at “some of the commentary” around the proposal to locate the centre in the Leitrim town.

He noted that Ireland has “experienced migration more than most countries have” with up to 70 million people worldwide claiming Irish heritage, many of whom left the country “seeking a fresh start right across the world.”

“Irish people were welcomed for the most part and we have nothing to fear in offering asylum to a very small number of people who are part is what is one of the greatest international challenges facing politicians and that is forced migration,” he said.

“I believe it is important that the Irish people continue to show the generosity that we are famed for worldwide.”

There was significant local opposition to the plans to open the Direct Provision centre on the site.

It led to a legal row over the ownership of the hotel.

The issue appeared to be resolved before Christmas when an agreement was reached to sell the property to new owners.

Listen to Newstalk Breakfast react here:


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