Locals rally to support asylum seekers after arson at hotel due to house them
The people of a Co Donegal town yesterday came together to show their support for asylum seekers after an arson attack on the hotel where they were due to be housed.
The Caiseal Mara Hotel in the small Inishowen town of Moville was set on fire in the early hours of yesterday.
The arson has thrown into disarray the plans for the hotel to begin housing the first arrivals of a group of 100 asylum seekers in the coming weeks.
However, just hours later, local people went ahead with a meeting they had arranged to organise a welcome party for the new arrivals.
The alarm was raised at the hotel at about 4am yesterday.
The reception area was extensively damaged while there was smoke damage throughout the building.
One man in his 50s, understood to be the hotel owner, was taken to Letterkenny General Hospital.
His injuries are not thought to be life-threatening.
His daughter is also understood to have been in the building, but was not injured.
Later in the day, the meeting to plan the welcome party went ahead, with more than 150 people turning up to show their support for the asylum seekers.
Garda Inspector Goretti Sheridan confirmed to the meeting that the fire was started deliberately.
A forensic team spent yesterday examining the scene while detectives are also reviewing hours of CCTV footage in and around the hotel on Foyle Street.
Many of those who attended the meeting in Moville's Methodist Hall, organised by Fáilte Inishowen, said they were horrified by the arson attack.
The principal of Moville Community College, Anthony Duggan, said the arson sent out a very poor message and the Christmas principle of welcome had been lost.
Local councillor Martin Farren said he was immensely proud of the reaction of the people of Moville.
"I said that the people of Moville would respond to the needs of these people and they have," he said.
"We obviously condemn this attack but I felt immense pride in the people of Moville today who have stood behind these people.
"We will welcome these people as we said we would and nothing has changed because of that," he said.
Mr Farren said he had spoken to an official at the Reception and Integration Agency.
"He said he will assess the damage and will assess when the building can be ready for these people but it will still be going ahead," he said.