Sunday 22 September 2019

Fears for direct provision centre as future depends on 'full assessment' of fire damage

The former Caiseal Mara Hotel. Photo: Lorcan Doherty
The former Caiseal Mara Hotel. Photo: Lorcan Doherty
Rachel Farrell

Rachel Farrell

There are fears for a planned direct provision centre as the Department of Justice has said the future of the facility will depend on the results of a “full assessment” of fire damage, following a suspected arson attack.

The incident took place at the Caiseal Mara Hotel in the Inishowen town of Moville, Co Donegal in the early hours of Sunday morning.

A group of 100 asylum seekers were due to arrive in Moville in early December, but it is understood that the damage to the building from the fire may have an impact on their arrival date.

“Until a full assessment of the damage has been carried out, the Department won’t be able to decide on the impact of any delay that may arise from this incident,” a department spokesperson told Independent.ie.

“Notwithstanding this, we will continue to source accommodation, in line with our legal and humanitarian commitments, for those seeking international protection in Ireland. Ministers Flanagan and Stanton have both condemned this incident at the Caiseal Mara Hotel on Sunday.”

The spokesperson added that the situation will be reassessed following the completion of the review, and that they will work alongside the local community to give the asylum seekers the "best possible support" they need.

“A full investigation is underway to determine the cause of the events that took place there and the level of any damage caused. Following that review, matters will be reassessed as necessary,” they said.

“We remain committed to working with the local community to ensure that the best possible support is provided to those seeking international protection.”

However local county councillor Martin Farren, who condemned the attack, previously said at the weekend that he had spoken with the Reception and Integration Agency and that Principal Adviser Eugene Banks confirmed the Direct Provision Centre will be going ahead at the hotel.

"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,"Mr Farren said.   

The decision to accommodate the 100 asylum seekers has divided the town, with many looking forward to the new arrivals and others concerned about the effect on tourism.

Two local campaign groups, Fáilte Inishowen and Inishowen Together, described the incident yesterday as a “hateful and cowardly act” and praised local residents for supporting the future of the asylum seekers.

“The dark and alarming act that happened hours before has galvanised the community of Moville to show what we are really made of- that this is a beautiful town of compassion and openness,” they said in a statement.

Speaking after news broke of the fire yesterday morning, Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said: “I condemn this attack and those behind it in the strongest possible terms. This was a despicable incident and could have led to very serious tragedy. 

“I send my best wishes for a full recovery to the injured person and all those impacted by the fire. I am urging anyone with any information with regard to this fire to contact the Gardaí.”

An investigation into the incident is ongoing and gardai have appealed to witnesses to contact Buncrana Garda Station on (074) 9320540, the Garda Confidential Line or any Garda Station.

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