Friday 22 February 2019

Asylum-seeker hotel hit by fire for second time

By EUGENE HOGAN A HOTEL intended for use by asylum-seekers has been hit by fire for the second time. Arsonists are suspected of being behind



> Asylum-seeker hotel hit by fire for second time



By EUGENE HOGAN

A HOTEL intended for use by asylum-seekers has been hit by fire for the second time.

Arsonists are suspected of being behind both attacks on the Vee Valley hotel in the village of Clogheen in south Tipperary.

Gardai investigating the second attack in three weeks said they were treating the cause of the fire as suspicious.

It started shortly before 3pm on Saturday in a bungalow house at the rear of the hotel, ironically at the same time that a community picket on the premises which has been maintained around the clock for 17 days was being withdrawn. Last night the chairman of the picket committee distanced the protest group from the attack and expressed his ``disgust'' at the suspected arson attack, which caused extensive damage to the detached building.

``This is not just disappointing but disgraceful and whoever set this fire certainly was not acting on behalf of this committee,'' said committee chairman, Dick Keating.

``We have from the outset maintained a peaceful campaign and the perpetrator of this attack certainly is not representative of the community or the views of the people here in Clogheen.

``It was a disgraceful attack and apart from even that, the fact is that it couldn't have happened at a worse time for us as we are making significant progress in our negotiations with both the hotel owner and the Directorate for Refugees and Asylum Support Services.''

A linen room in the main hotel building was badly damaged in the first arson attack, three weeks ago. However, this latest fire is not likely to disrupt plans for the arrival of the refugees next month. The committee chairman said that negotiations over the past number of days with the hotel owner, Rory O'Brien, have brought both sides closer and very near to an agreement with regard to the number of asylum seekers to be accommodated in the hotel.

It was because of this progress that the decision was taken by the committee to lift the controversial picket outside the premises, he said.

The picket was established following fierce opposition in the community to plans to locate up to 40 refugees in the hotel. The main concern locally is that the village, with a population of just 400 people, could not cater for 35-plus asylum seekers. However, the committee is willing to accept a lesser number.

The North Tipperary village of Borrisoleigh is also preparing for the arrival of some 25 asylum seekers who will be located in a local guest-house, The Clodagh Bar.

No opposition has emerged to the siting of the refugees and a number of services, including daily transport to and from the towns of Nenagh and Thurles, are to be laid on for the group.

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