Four TDs send joint statement in opposition to Grand Hotel plans
Four of Wicklow's TDs have written a joint statement addressed to the Department of Justice which outlines their opposition to the closure of the Grand as a hotel for at least twelve months.
In the letter, Deputies Pat Casey, Andrew Doyle, John Brady and Stephen Donnelly state that the decision to lease the Grand Hotel as a centre for direct provision is "depriving the County town of its only Hotel and must be reviewed".
The four TDs agreed to issue the joint statement after requests from the audience during a public meeting held in Wicklow town and attended by close to 300 people.
The statement continues: 'Tourism in Wicklow is one of our core industries and our County Town is of central importance to our recently launched tourism strategy. A central plank of Wicklow's tourism strategy is the development and promotion of additional accommodation for the increasing number of visitors to our county. The decision of the Department of Justice to lease the only Hotel in Wicklow Town for a twelve month period deprives the town of vital tourism infrastructure at a critical stage.'
The four TDs are also critical of the whole direct provision model.
'We acknowledge the Departments need to accommodate applicants for international protection. We endorse an Irish welcome and the highest standards of accommodation and service provision to be provided by the State. The current system of Direct Provision does not reach that standard as outlined in detail in the report by Dr Bryan McMahon, retired High Court Judge. The current system of Direct Provision is failing to deliver basic rights to those seeking asylum in Ireland. The Government should consider a state supported human rights model of accommodation as an alternative to the current model.'
They also condemn the failure of the Department of Justice to engage in consultations with the local community.
'To introduce a Direct Provision centre into Wicklow Town without additional resources for essential services such as GP's, teachers for local schools etc, is irresponsible and unethical. Wicklow cannot provide the Irish welcome to our new neighbours without adequate supports. We call on the Minister of Justice in the light of these serious and legitimate concerns to review this model of direct provision and to actively seek alternative, more appropriate models of accommodation. We are prepared to work closely with the Department in relation to this matter. In that regard we are also calling for a meeting with Minister Flanagan and Minister Stanton to discuss the concerns and explore long term solutions,' the TDs wrote.