Man hospitalised following incident at Oughterard protest over direct provision centres

Man hospitalised following incident at Oughterard protest over direct provision centres
Connemara Gateway Hotel. Picture: Hany Marzouk

A man was taken by ambulance to hospital in Galway today, after he sustained injuries during the protest against locating a direct provision centre in Oughterard.

In a further development, Government Chief Whip and Galway West Fine Gael TD Sean Kyne has appealed to protestors to disassociate themselves from “right-wing elements”.

Gardaí say a man fell to the ground after “colliding with a vehicle” near the site of the Connemara Gateway Hotel.

No arrests were made after the incident, which took place on a public road at Rushveela, adjoining the hotel grounds, at about 8.40am.

The Garda Press Office said that investigations were “ongoing”.

The man in his seventies was taken to University Hospital Galway, and his injuries are said to be not life-threatening.

Gardai said he was taken to hospital “as a precaution”.

A round-the-clock demonstration has been taking place since Saturday outside the hotel, which is about a mile outside Oughterard, in protest over locating “inhumane direct provision” at the premises.

Contractors who had been working on the building for the past few weeks have not passed the demonstration.

The protest involving several hundred people at times extends around the side of the hotel to the home of a family who had purchased the property 15 years ago.

Ms Michelle Doherty, who lives in the house at Rushveela, says she has been terrified by the protest and has had to call the Garda several times.

“People are demonstrating outside here as they believe hotel contractors might access the hotel from my garden,” she said.

“The van involved in the incident was arriving was here to upgrade my alarm as I am so afraid.”

I have been escorting my 15-year old daughter to the school bus and passing the picket, and it has been a very frightening experience.

“I have had people outside shining torches in my window at 4am and 5am,” she added.

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan appealed to the protestors earlier this week to “step back”, and expressed regret at heightened tensions in the town.

Government Chief Whip and Galway West Fine Gael TD Sean Kyne spoke to protestors early this morning, and urged them to disassociate themselves from “right-wing elements”.

Mr Kyne said he had no knowledge of plans for the hotel and said he would inform people if he was certain.

Mr Kyne said he would try to facilitate a meeting between the community and the Minister of State for Equality, Immigration and Integration David Stanton.

The protestors have pledged to maintain a 24-hour presence outside the hotel until they receive confirmation that it will not be used to house asylum seekers.

The community action began after a public meeting attended by 800 people last week, where Galway West Independent TD Noel Grealish differentiated between what he described as “genuine” refugees from Syria, and “economic migrants” from Africa who came to “sponge”off the taxpayer.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has called on Mr Grealish to withdraw and clarify his comments, while Minister for Children Katherine Zappone said she felt Mr Grealish should think about comments he made last week, clarify them further and perhaps withdraw them.

However, she said that it was up to Mr Grealish to decide if he should apologise.

Bishop of Limerick Brendan Leahy said at the weekend that “racism and intolerance “should have no place in Irish society”, while former Redemptorist Fr Tony Flannery has questioned why Saturday’s silent march began from the town’s Roman Catholic church.

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