Complaint made over Healy Rae link to direct provision hotel

Complaint made over Healy Rae link to direct provision hotel
Residents of the Skellig Star DP Centre in Caherciveen emerge from the Centre on Wednesday after a four week lockdown. Picture Alan Landers.

A complaint has been lodged with the clerk of the Dáil over the failure of Michael Healy Rae to declare his interest in the company that ran the hotel in Caherciveen, Co Kerry at the centre of the controversy about a direct provision centre.

The Kerry TD had a 25% share in a company, the Skellig Hotel Experience, that held the lease to the hotel in 2019. This company was sold to in December 2019 to businessman, Paul Collins, who runs three other direct provision centres. The Irish Examiner understands that Mr Healy Rae invested €25,000 in the Skellig Hotel Experience company in January 2019 for his shares.

On the Oireachtas Register of Interests for 2019, Mr Healy Rae declared 21 properties but there is no entry for his shareholding in the Skellig Hotel Experience.

Oireachtas members are obliged to declare any shareholding greater than €13,000 in value.

When asked if he wished to comment on the complaint, Mr Healy Rae said: “I always deal with the clerk of the Dáil on any issues in a very pro-active way.”

Mr Healy Rae has already had to make a supplementary declaration to the register to declare the company which runs a grocery store and petrol station in his hometown of Kilgarvan.

The failure to register this company was brought to his attention by Radio Kerry earlier this year and he subsequently corrected the record.

The current complaint was lodged last week by film- maker and former general election candidate, Norma Burke, who laid out five grounds, including three allegations that he had not declared the grocery store company in earlier years and that he had made a false declaration in the 2018 register that he was director of the Skellig Hotel Experience.

She also complained that he had not declared his shareholding in the company if it exceeded the €13,000 threshold.

“Ethics in politics needs a major overhaul,” Ms Burke told the Irish Examiner.

“We were promised reform and we haven’t seen it and this is part of the culture.”

The Skellig Star Hotel has been at the centre of controversy since an outbreak of the Covid-19 virus there last month.

When the controversy arose, Mr Healy Rae initially declared he wasn’t involved in the leasing of the hotel in 2019 but he subsequently accepted that the Skellig Hotel Experience held the lease.

He has remained adamant that he had no knowledge that it would be converted to a direct provision centre.

On Wednesday, the Minister for Justice apologised to the people of Caherciveen over how the centre was opened.

Yesterday, local people and the asylumseekers held a march to call for the centre to be shut down.

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