Gardaí appeal for witnesses to Rooskey hotel fire; Flanagan says incident 'a matter of great concern'

Emergency services at the scene last night. Photo: Eoghan Murphy

Update - 2.10pm: Gardaí are appealing for witnesses to the fire which occurred at the Shannon Key West Hotel in Rooskey on the Leitrim/Roscommon border last night.

The fire was reported at 8pm at the hotel which was earmarked as a direct provision centre for asylum seekers.

Gardaí say there are investigating all possible causes of the blaze. No one was injured.

Diversions are in place this afternoon as the scene is preserved pending a garda technical examination.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Carrick on Shannon Garda Station on 071 9650510.

The Irish Immigrant Support Centre strongly condemned the fire which caused extensive smoke damage to the hotel.

NASC CEO Fiona Finn believes the hotel may have been targeted by people opposed to it becoming a direct provision centre.

Earlier, Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said he was "deeply concerned" about the incident.

"The hotel had recently contracted with my Department to provide accommodation for 80 asylum seekers who have come to our country to seek protection, many of whom have experienced conflict and trauma and are vulnerable," he said.

"The final preparations were being made in the hotel for their arrival. Thankfully, there were no residents in situ when the fire broke out. A security guard who was on the premises was not injured and managed to raise the alarm.

The investigation into the cause of the fire must now take place and I do not wish to speculate at this point.

" It is also too early to say when the hotel might be ready to accept residents. All of the necessary assessments, certifications and any remedial works required must be carried out before we have a clearer timeframe.

"In the interim, my Department will continue to meet our obligation to provide accommodation for persons seeking our protection," he said.

Update - 8.50am: Charlie Flanagan: Fire at Leitrim hotel 'a matter of great concern'

By Vivienne Clarke

Minister for Justice and Equality Charlie Flanagan has expressed concern about the fire last night in a hotel on the Leitrim/Roscommon border that had been due to open as an accommodation centre for asylum seekers.

“It’s a matter of great concern. Thankfully no one was there. We are dealing with very vulnerable people seeking asylum in accordance with the laws of our country and international laws,” he told Newstalk Breakfast.

Gardaí are examining the scene at The Shannon Key West hotel in Rooskey which had been due to open as an accommodation centre for 80 people.

The Minister said that contracts had been signed for the building and he was disappointed by comments made locally about the change of use for the hotel.

Local businessman Andrew Reynolds told Newstalk Breakfast that the reaction to the fire in the area was one of shock. People in the village had hoped that the hotel could be part of rejuvenation plans for the area which he said had been devastated by the building of a bypass.

“Whatever chance we had of getting the village up and running relied on the hotel re-opening," he said.

Nobody in the village would say this was a good idea (accommodation centre for asylum seekers), bringing in 80 people. They don’t want to come here and we don’t want them here.

Mr Flanagan said such comments disappointed him especially considering the number of Irish people who had emigrated “seeking a fresh start across the world.

“We have nothing to fear offering asylum to a small group of people. I believe it’s important that Irish people continue to show the hospitality for which we’re famed worldwide.”

Earlier: Gardaí investigating after fire at Leitrim hotel earmarked for asylum seekers

A technical examination of a Leitrim hotel which had been earmarked for asylum seeker accommodation is being carried out following a fire last night.

Gardai and emergency services were called to the scene of the fire at the Shannon Key West Hotel in Rooskey at about 8pm last night.

The scene has been sealed off by gardai pending further investigations.

Gardai said nobody had been injured in the incident.

The cause of the blaze is not yet known.

The former hotel was the centre of an ownership row after the government announced in November that it was to be used to accommodate asylum seekers.

It was due to open this month and it was expected to house about 80 refugees.

An agreement has since been reached to develop a four-star hotel on the site.

The scene remains sealed off this morning as a technical examination is carried out to try to establish the cause of the fire.

In a separate incident in November a hotel in Moville, Co Donegal that was due to house around 100 asylum seekers was targeted in a suspected arson attack.

- Press Association

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