'We are absolutely not racist' - protests hit Rooskey following two arson attacks at hotel
Residents of Rooskey, on the Leitrim/Roscommon border, clashed with anti-racism activists yesterday at a protest following two arson attacks on a hotel earmarked to take asylum-seekers.
Strong words were exchanged between the anti-racism activists - largely from outside the town - and the locals, who believed that the march was giving the area a bad name.
"We are not racist, absolutely not. We have welcomed everyone, we have been doing it all my life," said one local woman, adding: "I am really upset about this."
The woman pointed out that there was very little in the town and suggested that it was simply not suitable for an influx of asylum-seekers.
"Since the factory burned down, there is nothing in Rooskey, there is no bus service, no services for asylum-seekers to be put here in Rooskey," she said.
The 'No To Racism: Asylum Seekers Welcome' rally took place after two arson attacks on the Shannon Key West Hotel in the town in the space of a month.
Asylum-seekers were set to be accommodated at the former hotel, but the property is also at the centre of a sale dispute that is currently before the High Court. Singer Christy Moore was among those who sent messages of support to the anti-racism rally.
Speakers at the event included the MEP Luke 'Ming' Flanagan. Anti-racism campaigner John Lannon said that while direct provision was not fit for purpose, the asylum seekers needed sanctuary.
"There shouldn't be division in the village about this," he added.