Belfast Telegraph

Justice Department ‘disappointed’ Galway Direct Provision site will not go ahead

The plan to accommodate asylum seekers at the former hotel in Galway led to local protests in recent weeks.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan (Brian Lawless/PA)
Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan (Brian Lawless/PA)

By Aine McMahon, PA

The Department of Justice has said it is “disappointing” that a tender for a Direct Provision centre at a former hotel in Oughterard, Co Galway, has been withdrawn.

For several weeks, local people have held protests at the former Connemara Gateway Hotel over plans it was to be repurposed to accommodate asylum seekers.

Protest organisers said they were not consulted properly about the proposed Direct Provision centre by the Department of Justice.

The department has faced resistance to opening new Direct Provision centres due to arson attacks at hotels in Moville, Co Donegal, and Rooskey in Co Roscommon earlier this year.

The department acknowledges that the system of Direct Provision is not perfect but makes the point that it is working to improve it, and also that it has supported 60,000 people who arrived here with nothing to seek our protection Department of Justice spokesman

Tender applicant Sean Lyons Senior told Galway Bay FM on Tuesday that they had decided to cease work at the site this morning and there was absolutely no question of the proposed redevelopment of the hotel progressing.

In a statement on Tuesday, the Department of Justice said it is “disappointing” that the tender has been withdrawn.

A department spokesman said it is its experience in opening and operating centres for the last 20 years that “communities are generally understanding of the need to open centres”.

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan said the nature of Direct Provision services, which he said are in line with EU law, “have been totally mischaracterised”.

He said: “In recent weeks, grossly misleading comments have been made about the nature of Direct Provision services in this state. The nature of the services – which have improved steadily over many years and are now in line with EU law – have been totally mischaracterised.

“People have demanded we close down our accommodation centres. They have been less forthcoming with proposals as to where housing would be sourced for the 6,014 people currently availing of services in centres, the 1,379 people being provided with shelter and services in emergency accommodation and the dozens of people who will present today, tomorrow and the next day seeking the protection of the state,” he said.

The Department of Justice said that the 38 existing Direct Provision centres are full and there are almost 1,400 people currently being accommodated in emergency accommodation in hotels and guest houses.

“The department acknowledges that the system of Direct Provision is not perfect but makes the point that it is working to improve it, and also that it has supported 60,000 people who arrived here with nothing to seek our protection. That is an obligation that it takes very seriously,” said the department spokesman.

He said the department recognises the need to engage with communities in advance of new centres opening and is working to improve community engagement structures.

PA

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph