Fresh calls to close Kerry direct provision centre as Healy-Rae rejects Flanagan's apology

A Kerry TD is rejecting the Justice Minister's apology for the opening of a direct-provision centre in Caherciveen.
Fresh calls to close Kerry direct provision centre as Healy-Rae rejects Flanagan's apology
Danny Healy-Rae TD

There have been fresh calls to close the controversial direct provision centre in Caherciveen, Co Kerry following the unprecedented apology from Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan.

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But the minister’s intervention has done little to quell local anger and sparked new calls to close the DP centre in the Skellig Star hotel.

A Kerry TD Danny Healy-Rae has rejected the justice minister's apology for the opening of a direct-provision centre in Caherciveen and called for it to be immediately closed.

He said he is sorry for the lack of consultation when the centre was opened in March - but said it will remain open.

He said: "I heard his apology, while it is something very small it isn't much good to the people of Caherciveen who've gone through so much for so long now, for many months, when he's saying he won't close the place down.

"Clearly the place isn't suitable."

Last week, it emerged that Michael Healy Rae had a shareholding in the company that sold the lease in the hotel in Cahirciveen which is now running as a direct provision centre.

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 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.

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.

Skellig Star Hotel in Cahiersiveen
Skellig Star Hotel in Cahiersiveen

Labour Justice spokesperson Seán Sherlock said it is not good enough for the Minister for Justice to publish an apology to Kerry people, and that he should now address the Dáil and shut down the “failed centre”.

“The Minister for Justice has taken the extraordinary step of publishing an apology to the people of Kerry in their local newspaper.

“What he has failed to do is fully explain what has happened in Cahersiveen, nor has he apologised to the asylum seekers he was responsible for, and to date he has not fully explained why they were placed in an unfit facility.

“The Minister for Justice should now make an apology to the Dáil and to the refugees he has utterly failed.

“Last week he failed to adequately answer questions in the Dáil last Wednesday when I raised this centre with him and the treatment of residents in Direct Provision.”

Niall Collins
Niall Collins

Also responding to the Justice Minister's apology this morning was Fianna Fáil TD Niall Collins, who was a member of the Oireachtas foreign affairs committee.

"I think the minister's handling of the direct provision centre in Cahirciveen has been shambolic," he said.

"It's a throwback to the old days when direct provision centres were opened without any consultation with the local community, and also with scant regard for users and residents of direct provision centres.

"I think it's been completely mishandled."

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