Local communities and retailers in Waterford have voiced concern at the imminent arrival of Syrian refugees to Clonea Strand Hotel.
At an emergency meeting in Dungarvan, up to 50 business people met to discuss their opposition to plans by the Department of Justice to locate up to 100 refugees in a reception centre in the hotel.
A reported 25 people are due to arrive before the end of the month.
Business people, councillors, and residents raised concerns that the area is inappropriate for refugees. They said the placement of refugees at the local tourist spot would have a negative impact on business.
Cllr Damien Geoghegan (FG), who attended the meeting, emphasised it was not an anti-refugee meeting but an opportunity for locals to “express their views to public representatives”.
“The residents here are not opposed to refugees coming to Waterford or Dungarvan in particular,” said Mr Geoghegan.
“They are opposed to the suitability of Clonea as a site for a reception and orientation centre for refugees.”
He said there was strong representation from local communities, with more than 40 residents in attendance. He said locals were “heavily dependent” on the success of Clonea as a tourist destination during the summer.
“They are concerned about the knock-on effect this will have on the commercial life in Clonea and, indeed, Dungarvan,” said Mr Geoghegan.
Describing it as a “critical” amenity area in Dungarvan, Mr Geoghegan said locals were convinced the arrival of refugees to Clonea would have a detrimental effect on business.
“The overwhelming view in the area is that refugees are welcome but Clonea is just not a suitable location,” he said. “The amenities in the area are going to suffer and the tourist numbers will begin to dry up.”
Official sources have remained tight-lipped over the arrival of the refugees and Mr Geoghegan said the people of Dungarvan have been left in the dark over what is happening.
“There is a strong feeling in Dungarvan that this was all done in a very underhand manner,” he said.
“Everything has been done in an extremely underhand fashion. We received no information and things were kept quiet and done in a sneaky fashion.”
Mr Geoghegan said the council was not consulted in “any way, shape, or form” by the owner of the hotel or the Department of Justice, and said there was still a shortage of information coming from official sources.
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