Tuesday 21 August 2018

Lisdoonvarna says 'no' to plan for 115 asylum seekers to move into town

Asylum seekers will begin arriving in Lisdoonvarna tomorrow — despite a secret ballot among local people against the move. Stock image
Asylum seekers will begin arriving in Lisdoonvarna tomorrow — despite a secret ballot among local people against the move. Stock image

Gordon Deegan

Locals in Lisdoonvarna, Co Clare, have voted overwhelmingly to reject Government plans to accommodate 115 asylum seekers in the town.

This follows 93pc of those who voted saying 'no' to plans by the Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) to house the asylum seekers in the King Thomond Hotel.

The hotel is owned by Marcus White, who has been centrally involved in promoting the Lisdoonvarna match-making festival every September.

At a public meeting last week, Mr White said that if people didn't want the centre to proceed, he would honour that.

In response to Mr White's public statement, the local community held a vote by secret ballot at a public meeting organised by Lisdoonvarna Fáilte.

In response to the question 'do you want a direct provision centre in Lisdoonvarna?', 197 voted 'no', with 15 voting 'yes'.

Now, as a result of the vote, chairman of Lisdoonvarna Fáilte Paddy Dunne has called on Mr White to honour that undertaking and not proceed with the plan.

He said: "I hope Marcus will listen now and reconsider."

Mr Dunne said the vote "is nothing against Marcus and we really appreciate everything he does for the town, bringing in tourists, but it is too much for the community to handle."

He said the 115 asylum seekers would increase the 300-strong population of Lisdoonvarna by 38pc.

He said: "People in the town will be welcoming to a lesser number, but not 115."

In response to questions from the local community, the RIA stated that the Minister for Justice had concluded a contract with the owner of the King Thomond Hotel.

The RIA response stated that "the addition of a maximum of 115 persons over the course of a year should not put an undue strain on existing resources and services".

The first asylum seekers were due to arrive on Monday and this has been put back a week due to the current weather conditions. The RIA has told the community in a written reply that the implementation of the plan cannot be delayed.

Efforts to contact Mr White for comment were unsuccessful.

Irish Independent

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