Government abandons plan to locate asylum seekers in Rooskey





Department says decision solely linked to lease


The Department of Justice has insisted that its decision to abandon a controversial plan to locate 80 asylum seekers in Rooskey was not linked to the two suspected arson attacks on the Shannon Key West Hotel.

  The Department had been pressing ahead over recent months with plans to use the former hotel as an accommodation centre for asylum seekers. Amidst controversy over the plans, the hotel was the scene of two suspected arson attacks, which Gardai are continuing to investigate. The people of Rooskey have emphatically distanced themselves from those attacks, insisting that people in the area are traditionally very welcoming, but that Rooskey does not have the services or facilities to cope with the mooted arrival of 80 asylum seekers, many of whom would not speak English, have suffered trauma in their own country, and would not be legally entitled to work, at least in the short term. 

  In a statement issued to the Roscommon People on Thursday, the Department of Justice said that the decision not to proceed with the project was entirely down to issues to do with the lease agreement pertaining to the former hotel.

  Pointedly, the Department said: “The decision not to proceed was taken solely in relation to the difficulties with the lease”.

  The news that the plan to open an accommodation centre for asylum seekers in Rooskey will not be proceeding broke early on Thursday morning – and has been welcomed by a number of local politicians. 

  The Department of Justice cited “difficulties with the lease agreement” as the reason for its change of heart.

  The statement read: ‘The Department of Justice and Equality regrets that it is not in a position to proceed with plans to open an accommodation centre in the Shannon Key West Hotel, Rooskey.

  ‘The decision was taken following legal advice sought from the Chief State Solicitors Office which found difficulties with the lease agreement between the owners of the hotel, and the operator renting it, which made proceeding with the proposed centre unviable.

  ‘The Department is not party to these lease arrangements and these matters are outside our control.

  ‘We remain committed to sourcing suitable premises to meet the accommodation needs of people in the international protection process. A regional procurement process is underway and will continue throughout the year.

  ‘The decision not to proceed was taken solely in relation to the difficulties with the lease’.


Positive reaction as saga ends…

Eugene Murphy

Fianna Fáil TD for Roscommon-Galway Eugene Murphy has acknowledged the announcement that the Department of Justice will not go ahead with plans to provide accommodation for asylum seekers in Rooskey.

  Deputy Murphy commented: “The Minister for Justice informed me on Thursday that the plans to provide an accommodation centre in Rooskey will not now proceed. There are lessons to be learned from this proposed plan.

  “The Minister must understand you should not identify a location and make plans to move people into a village without prior consultation with residents or stakeholders, while also providing no additional facilities for the new and existing inhabitants.

  “It was extremely disappointing to see outside groups come into our community and cause distributions and division. That is not the community I know. The people in Rooskey are compassionate and welcoming.

  “There are people fleeing from dangerous situations looking for a steady place to live. The government must learn from the past few months to ensure asylum seekers are provided with safe and suitable accommodation,” concluded Deputy Murphy.

Andrew Reynolds

Andrew Reynolds, Fine Gael candidate for the Boyle Municipal District in the local elections, welcomed the news.

  “This is a positive day for the people of Rooskey but cannot be seen as victorious for us – or that today we are winning a battle,” he stated.

  “This development is positive also for the asylum seekers who would have been brought to a village which had no adequate services. The whole area of direct provision is completely wrong and dehumanising for all involved”.

  Mr. Reynolds said that huge lessons can and must be learned from what he called the “Rooskey debacle”.

  “Our whole concern was for not only the welfare of the asylum seekers but also for the future welfare of our village. Our village needs to become highly reliant on tourism for any future development. Over the last number of years the Irish economy has changed so much that we had overpriced ourselves and started to lose our trade, our water quality decreased and our fish stock diminished. However we are now in a very good place, our water quality has never been as good, our fish stock is better than ever and we are marketing ourselves well across Europe”.

  Mr. Reynolds added: “I feel that this positive move from the Department in withdrawing their intention to turn the former Shannon Key West Hotel into a direct provision centre is the day that we open a new chapter in the village of Rooskey – we hope that we can bring our village to a good and a positive place going forward. We have great people around us in our village; we have great talent and great groups locally and now need to remain united as one”.

Tom Crosby

Local election candidate Tom Crosby said that he very much welcomed the news.

  He said: “At the first public meeting held in Rooskey village when it was first announced last year that 80 refugees were coming to the Shannon Key West in the village, I came out very strongly against the proposal on the basis that Rooskey did not have the necessary facilities or infrastructure to provide for 80 people coming from cities in war-torn countries.

  “I stressed at the time that it would be a serious injustice to the unfortunate people that have gone through so much to be now placed in a small village with no proper infrastructure or facilities to accommodate their needs.

  “Rooskey, with the River Shannon flowing through the centre of the village, is one of the most attractive tourist destinations on that river and a hotel facility is critical to developing the potential of the area.

  “In turn, a hotel development would create much-needed employment in a village that lost several hundred jobs which were never replaced when Glanbia closed down many years ago”.

  Mr. Crosby said that the community in Rooskey is united with many excellent different voluntary organisations and he called for urgent state assistance to help these groups achieve their goals for the area.

Maura Hopkins

Stating that Minister David Stanton had informed her of the decision on Thursday morning, Senator Maura Hopkins issued a brief statement, saying: “I previously raised concerns with Minister Stanton on numerous occasions in relation to the lack of resources and facilities in the village of Rooskey to cater for a Direct Provision Centre”.