A group in the Co Kerry town where a controversial direct provision centre was closed down last summer has applied to host the resettlement of refugees.
Fáilte Cahirciveen has been set up to welcome refugees to the south Kerry town under the Government’s Community Sponsorship Programme.
The move comes as the owner of the Skellig Star hotel in the town has made known he hopes to re-open it as a new form of direct provision centre in the future.
In August, the hotel was shut down as a direct provision centre, following a major controversy over outbreaks of Covid-19 in the hotel. Asylum seekers' groups and local people mounted a campaign to have the hotel closed. The last of the asylum seeker residents in the hotel were moved in September.
This week, the hotel owner, Paul Collins, told RTÉ Radio he hoped to use the hotel to host an “own-door” centre for asylum seekers, which is the form of accommodation recommended in a recent expert report.
He told theprogramme that the premises would not be economically viable as a hotel. The Skellig Star complex includes 36 apartments which would qualify as 'own-door' accommodation and Mr Collins runs three other direct provision centres around the country. When contacted,
Mr Collins said he didn’t wish to comment at this point but would in the new year do a podcast with thefrom the Skellig Star.
The Fáilte Cahirciveen group was set up a number of weeks ago and is applying to resettle refugee families under the Community Sponsorship programme.
The programme places families from refugee camps, primarily in Lebanon, in towns around the State, providing them with their own accommodation and a range of support services.
Applicants must raise €10,000 and provide details of the housing that is available and the services. The programme has already resettled nine families in towns and the Cork-based NASC service, which facilities the programme, is currently working with six other groups.
Lisa O’Shea, from the Fáilte Cahirciveen group, said they wanted to show there was an alternative to direct provision.
“This community programme is the way to go,” she said.
She said local people did not accept Mr Collins’ contention that a hotel in the town would not be viable.
“The Skellig Star made money when it operated as a hotel and this town is short of tourist beds. That will become even a bigger issue when the south Kerry Greenway which was announced last month is operational. So we would all welcome the Skellig Star going back to the way it was.”