Update: Residents condemn 'lack of consultation' over housing of asylum seekers in hotel hit by arson

Update: Residents condemn 'lack of consultation' over housing of asylum seekers in hotel hit by arson
The Caiseal Mara Hotel after the fire. Pic: North west News Pix

Update - 10.58am: The owner of the hotel in Moville, Co Donegal, which was damaged in a fire yesterday morning, was in the building when the arson attack occurred.

According to Highland radio the man, in his 50s, was taken to hospital where he was treated for smoke inhalation.

The Caiseal Mara Hotel suffered smoke damage in what Gardaí have described as an arson attack. The building was due to house 100 asylum seekers in the coming weeks despite local criticism at the lack of consultation.

Donegal Senator Padraig Mac Lochlainn told Highland radio that the owners of the hotel had already received threats prior to the incident.

He condemned the actions, which he said did not represent the majority of the community.

Mr Mac Lochlainn said: “The family who owns the hotel were in the building. There could have been a tragic result.

“Whoever did this don’t speak for the people of Moville who have legitimate concerns that they weren’t consulted.

“The vast majority who expressed concerns did so in a measured way. They are separate from a handful of thugs issuing threats and who carried out this attack.”

Local councillor Martin Farren told Newstalk’s Pat Kenny show that local people were shocked and angry about the arson attack and he also condemned the incident.

“This is not a true reflection of the town and the people who live here. This has left a lot of people very angry.”

Cllr Farren said that people in the community had been concerned at the lack of consultation in relation to the housing of asylum seekers in the hotel. “We only became aware of it two and a half weeks ago. The town has a population of only 1450, an extra 100 people is a big increase. They are looking at the infrastructure.

“The vast majority are very welcoming. They have no problem with the people coming, just with the way the Integration Agency handled it. The main problem is with the lack of consultation.

“There needs to be proper consultation with local communities.”

Tracy Cullen-Sheehan of Failte Inishowen, a group set up to provide “sustained, structured support” for asylum seekers coming to the area, also told Newstalk that the vast majority of people were supportive and did not have an issue with the individuals who would come to stay in the area, but with the issue of direct provision.

“People were scared already. It’s very important to have a strong response, to say that this doesn’t represent everybody. Even people who are opposed condemn what happened yesterday.”

Earlier: Residents of Donegal town 'totally shocked and angry' over hotel arson

A man injured in an arson attack on a Donegal hotel has been released from hospital.

The 50-year-old was the owner of the Caiseal Mara hotel in Moville which was badly damaged by the fire yesterday morning.

The hotel was due to house up to 100 refugees next month.

Garda forensics at the Caiseal Mara Hotel yesterday. Pic: North West News Pix
Garda forensics at the Caiseal Mara Hotel yesterday. Pic: North West News Pix

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan has condemned the attack, describing it as a "despicable act".

Local councillor Martin Farren says people in the town are angry at what has happened.

Mr Farren said: "Moville is a seaside town, a very welcoming town, they are like myself - totally shocked and angry at what happened in the early hours of Saturday night, Sunday morning."

According to local Independent TD, Thomas Pringle, a packed meeting at the Methodist Hall in the town on Sunday showed “clearly to the racists that attacked The Caiseal Mara Hotel on Saturday night what the people of Moville really think of them and their tactics”.

He said: “There wasn’t even standing room in the Methodist Hall to hear the thoughts of former asylum seekers Lucky Khambule and Vukasin Nedeljkovic on the direct provision system and the needs of the asylum seekers that will come and the support they will need from the community. The community came out in force to say that they will get that help from them.”

The Methodist Hall meeting in the town on Sunday. Pic: Thomas Pringle
The Methodist Hall meeting in the town on Sunday. Pic: Thomas Pringle

“It was a powerful answer from the community and a great tribute to the people of Moville that so many people came to show their support after such a devastating attack was carried out on the centre.

“The support is there and the community are ready to help in every way they can. There will be a lot of work to be done over the coming months and years but I have no doubt that the community will give a real Donegal welcome to the asylum seekers and they and the community will benefit from that experience.”

- Digital Desk


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