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Monday 16 September 2019

'We received threats' - Daughter of man injured in arson attack on hotel earmarked for asylum seekers

Garda forensic officers at the scene of the fire at the Caiseal Mara Hotel in Moville where 100 immigrants are due to arrive to in the next few weeks. (North West Newspix)
Garda forensic officers at the scene of the fire at the Caiseal Mara Hotel in Moville where 100 immigrants are due to arrive to in the next few weeks. (North West Newspix)

Stephen Maguire

The daughter of a man injured when their family hotel was firebombed at the weekend says she could have been attending his funeral.

Ciaran McKenna was in the Caiseal Mara Hotel in Moville, Co Donegal in the early hours of Sunday morning last when it was targeted by arsonists.

The hotel is due to accommodate up to 100 asylum seekers as a direct provision centre in the coming weeks.

Aoife McKenna, 22, revealed how she saw flames coming from the family's hotel as she returned home from a night out at around 4am on Sunday morning last.

The scene of the fire at the Caiseal Mara Hotel in Moville where 100 immigrants are due to arrive to in the next few weeks. (North West Newspix)
The scene of the fire at the Caiseal Mara Hotel in Moville where 100 immigrants are due to arrive to in the next few weeks. (North West Newspix)

She told how her father had managed to get to the bedroom window on the second floor of the building as fire spread throughout the hotel.

"It was all very surreal. I saw a man up at the window and I suddenly realised it was my dad and that the hotel was on fire.

"He heard the alarm but the smoke had become so bad that he couldn't get out downstairs.

"He was stuck and couldn't get down but he was phoning the fire brigade as he tried to escape," she revealed.

Two units of the fire service from Carndonagh and Moville arrived on the scene within minutes and managed to rescue Ciaran as Aoife looked on anxiously.

Aoife revealed how friends and family had been due to stay in the hotel but cancelled at the last minute.

She said she honestly believes that somebody was looking down on them and that she could have been attending her dad's funeral and perhaps the funerals of other family members.

"I firmly believe that somebody was looking down on our family. We could have been holding a number of funerals today," she said.

Ciaran was rushed to Letterkenny University Hospital but has since been released from hospital.

Before the hotel was confirmed as a direct provision centre, the family did try to seel the house twice but both sales fell through.

The McKenna family moved to Donegal from the Cabra and Glasevein area of Dublin four years ago to start a new life having had friends there.

Aoife confirmed that since the news that the hotel was to be used as a direct provision centre, the family received threats in recent weeks.

"I can't say too much but we did receive threats through calls and we were being harassed. I felt people were throwing looks at me," she said.

However, Aoife said the people of Moville have been so good since the incident and that the family are determined to stay in Donegal.

"Moville and Donegal is a great place and the vast majority of people here are lovely people. Just because there is one bad apple here does not mean the whole place is rotten.

"This has been my home for the past four years since we moved here and I have been coming to Donegal since I was a child.

"It's a great place and we will continue to live here," she said.

Aoife confirmed that the centre will go ahead and said the arson attack and the damage to the hotel is just a "setback."

"The centre will go ahead and we will welcome these people who come from war-torn countries. We are giving up our home to welcome these people and I'm sure the ordinary, decent people of Moville will welcome them too," she added.

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