Thousands gather in Oughterard silent protest over proposed direct provision centre

Thousands of people joined a silent-protest yesterday outside the former Connemara Gateway Hotel, and a 24-hour presence is continuing there today.

Thousands gather in Oughterard silent protest over proposed direct provision centre

Campaigners objecting to plans for a Direct Provision Centre at Oughterard in Co Galway say it's about planning - not racism.

Thousands of people joined a silent-protest yesterday outside the former Connemara Gateway Hotel, and a 24-hour presence is continuing there today.

Local Independent Councillor Thomas Welby says it's about facilities - not about the people who will use them.

"Since last Saturday week there has consistently been people there and we will continue 24 hours a day," he said.

Cllr Welby says up to 3,000 people joined yesterday's silent protest against proposals for a Direct Provision Centre in Oughterard.

"The crowds well exceeded the last protest."

He added that the protest was silent "to signify the silence that has been afforded to the local community in relation to this from the Department of Justice."

Meanwhile, an anti-racism group says claims people are worried about the standard of direct provision centres can be hijacked for negative purposes.

Writing in the Irish Examiner during the week, Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan called for the debate to be "thoughtful,respectful, and factual".

"Let’s talk about what it might mean to expand on the 38 centres already dotted around the country, and have one open in our own area," he wrote. "But let’s do it respectfully."

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