The developer seeking a contract to provide a centre for asylum seekers in Oughterard, Co Galway, has denied making “intimidating” comments to a delegation of residents last week.
Seán Lyons Snr who is associated with Fazyard Ltd, which runs Dublin’s largest direct provision centre in Clondalkin, confirmed to The Irish Examiner that he met the residents with Mr Kyne in Dublin last Thursday (sep 19).
No contract has as yet been signed for any new direct provision centres, according to the Department of Justice.
However, the residents’ group was offered a meeting with Mr Lyons on Thursday after they travelled to Dublin to meet Minister of State for Immigration David Stanton.
The five residents – publican Rory Clancy, residents John Gibney and his wife Jackie, builders John Gibbons and Patrick Curran – have been involved in a protest in Oughterard over locating “inhumane direct provision” at the Connemara Gateway Hotel a mile outside the town.
The 24-hour protest outside the hotel followed a silent march on September 14th involving over 1500 people.
The delegation told this newspaper they met Mr Lyons in a Dublin hotel with Mr Kyne, in is capacity as Fine Gael TD for Galway West, after what they described as a very disappointing meeting with Mr Stanton and officials in the Department of Justice.
The group say they felt so “threatened” by the tone of the meeting that they contacted Mr Kyne afterwards to convey their concerns, and lodged a complaint with the Garda in Salthill, Galway on Saturday afternoon . (Sept 21).
The group told Mr Kyne by email they believed Mr Lyons “ seemed to know more about the tender process than the department”.
“We are deeply concerned about his lack of concern for the interests of the local community and by the intimidating intent of some of his comments despite his friendly facade,”the email said.
“We also find it worrying that he would behave in such a manner on foot of a meeting facilitated and attended by yourself, a Government minister,”the email said.
Mr Kyne did not respond to requests for comment. However, a reply from his office to one of the group members seen by this newspaper states that he was “happy” to organise Thursday’s meeting, and knew how “concerned” people are.
“Regarding Seán Lyons holding people responsible – I very much doubt that he can do so”, Mr Kyne replied, advising that “if any member of the public feels threatened then of course they have the option of contacting the Gardaí”.
The group also asked Mr Kyne to inform his Government colleague, Mr Stanton, that they were “deeply disturbed by the evasive and contradictory statements and comments” made by officials at the Department of Justice meeting.
They said they had “now no confidence in the robustness of that process” for awarding direct provision contracts.
The group had emailed Mr Stanton in advance of Thursday’s meeting with a submission for the Government panel evaluating the suitability of premises for direct provision.
Contacted by The Irish Examiner, Mr Lyons said he believed he was to meet “two to three people” and met “nine people” instead, including Mr Kyne.
Mr Lyons said it was “ridiculous to think” the group “could find my comments threatening”.
“I have people who told me that racist comments were made by protestors, and that there are right wing people on Oughterard,”Mr Lyons said.
He advised that any questions should be referred to the Department of Justice.
The Department of Justice has said no contracts have been signed in relation to specific locations or premises.