'Show a bit of humanity': Minister calls on Achill asylum seekers protestors to stand down

Minister of State for Equality, Immigration and Integration, David Stanton has called on the protesters at the Achill Head Hotel to “stand down”.

'Show a bit of humanity': Minister calls on Achill asylum seekers protestors to stand down

Minister of State for Equality, Immigration and Integration, David Stanton has called on the protesters at the Achill Head Hotel to “stand down”.

The contract for 13 “vulnerable women” asylum seekers to stay in the Achill hotel was for three months and would conclude at the end of January, he told RTÉ radio’s Today with Sean O’Rourke show.

He and his department are very keen to work with communities, he said.

This had worked well in Borrisokane where local concerns had been addressed and asylum seekers there had gone on to become involved in local sporting organisations and the Tidy Town committee.

“Everyone has a role to play here. This is a ‘whole of Government’ approach.

I would urge people to show a bit of humanity. We will work with the local community.

The Minister said he was very disappointed about what was happening with the protests in Achill and elsewhere. “I know people have reservations, but the protest and their presence (protesters) could be intimidating.”

He said that officials from his department had been engaging with the community in Achill and had met with local elected representatives.

Communications had been robust “to say the least.”

There are 39 direct provision centres around the country and they operate with no issue, added Mr Stanton.

“There’s nothing to fear. All these women want is peace and quiet.”

Mr Stanton said he was calling on public representatives “of all political hues across the spectrum” to show their solidarity.

The Government is working as hard as it can to meet its international obligations “to help these people,” he said.

The contract for the hotel in Achill has been signed and it is for three months.

“Let’s put in a small number at first,” he urged.

Having protesters outside in yellow vests 24/7 was very intimidating for vulnerable women.

We’re better than that.

Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil’s justice spokesperson Jim O’Callaghan has expressed “extreme concern” at the decision to postpone plans to house the women at the hotel.

Recent events in Oughterard and Ballaghaderreen along with fires in Rooskey and Movill were also cause for concern, he told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland.

Mr O’Callaghan was further concerned that “outside forces” were “piggybacking” local protests.

“People are trying to stir this pot.”

The public needed to recognise that Ireland is now a wealthy country so it was going to attract economic migrants.

They can’t have it both ways, have the country wealthy and successful, but say that they don’t want people coming here.

Mr O’Callaghan said he would encourage people to approach the issue with an open mind.

He also called on the State to provide purpose built accommodation for direct provision.

“The Government needs to recognise that this is going to be a long term problem.”

When asked about a recent event when a TG4 cameraman was asked to leave a public meeting about the issue in Achill, Mr O’Callaghan said it should not have happened and that people should not be embarrassed about having what they say subjected to public scrutiny.

“People are fearful of change. People shouldn’t be fearful especially in parts of Ireland suffering depopulation.”

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