Kerry TD Michael Healy Rae had a shareholding in the company that sold the lease in the hotel in Cahirciveen to the businessman now running it as a Direct Provision (DP) centre.
The centre in the south Kerry town has been mired in controversy since an outbreak of Covid-19 last month.
Local are seeking an injunction to have the centre closed down. Ciaran Quinlan of Renard, Cahersiveen has instructed Killarney based solicitors Padraig O’J O’Connell to proceed to take an injunction against the operator of the Direct Provision Centre at the Skellig Star Hotel, the solicitor has confirmed.
Mr Healy Rae had previously stated he had nothing to do with the hotel. He had stated that he was involved in a tourism company, the Skellig Hotel Experience (SHE), and that another shareholder coincidentally had the lease to the hotel.
However, when it was pointed out to him yesterday that the Skellig Hotel Experience company, in which he was a 25% shareholder, held the lease until last December he said he was unaware of that.
“All I can tell you is I was involved in the company and I had nothing to do with the hotel.”
He said he was not involved in running the hotel and this has been confirmed by other sources.
The Skellig Hotel Experience company was sold to businessman Paul Collins last December. The only asset in the company was the lease to the hotel. Mr Collins runs three other DP centres.
Mr Healy Rae said he was unaware of to whom the Skellig Hotel Experience company was sold. According to company records, he had invested in the newly formed company in January 2019.
Asked whether he made a good return on his investment when it was sold to Mr Collins in December 2019, Mr Healy Rae said “It wasn’t a big deal, I would have preferred if the (tourism) business went ahead rather than selling it.”
When asked why anybody would have paid a considerable amount of money for a company unless it had an asset worth purchasing he said. “I don’t know anything about the sale other than a few people looked at it.”
He is adamant that he had no idea that the new lease was going to use the hotel as a DP centre.
The Irish Examiner has also learned Mr Collins began the process to use the hotel as a direct provision centre last July when the lease was still held by Mr Healy Rae’s company.
Mr Healy Rae and the two other shareholders said they had no idea that a DP centre was being planned.
At least 25 residents of the centre have now tested positive for Covid-19 and have been moved to isolation centres. Two more cases were confirmed this week.
The Irish Refugee Council has raised concern about the plight of residents of DP centres during the Covid crisis.