Furious locals use tractors to blockade Irish holiday homes housing migrants


Protesters in Ireland have blocked access to holiday homes being used to house migrants, claiming the asylum seekers were being moved there ‘underhandedly’ and citing fire safety and sewage management concerns.

A group of 34 asylum seekers was accommodated at three holiday homes on the site of Magowna House Hotel in Inch yesterday evening.

However, access roads to the site were then blocked by local protesters using tractors with another gate blocked by a silage bail.

Today some asylum seekers expressed fear over the ongoing situation, while one of the drivers of the tractors, who did not want to provide his name, said locals had concerns about fire safety and sewage management on the site.

He said they expected another bus to arrive and that the asylum seekers were being moved ‘underhandedly’.

‘So we stopped the roads, we blocked the roads so a second bus could not get in.’

He said this was because there would be ’70 people in this locality with nowhere to go’, and questioned how the asylum seekers would integrate into the community.

Four asylum seekers have decided to leave the accommodation amid the protests. 

Asylum seekers outside the accommodation at the Magowna House hotel in Inch, Co Clare

Asylum seekers outside the accommodation at the Magowna House hotel in Inch, Co Clare

Silage bales used to blockade the entrance to accommodation housing asylum seekers

Silage bales used to blockade the entrance to accommodation housing asylum seekers

A woman delivers homemade brownies to the asylum seekers outside the Magowna House Hotel

A woman delivers homemade brownies to the asylum seekers outside the Magowna House Hotel

Asylum seekers, who told reporters they were heading for Dublin, leaving the grounds of the hotel

Asylum seekers, who told reporters they were heading for Dublin, leaving the grounds of the hotel

Protesters said they would not prevent an asylum seeker from leaving, and those blocking access to the site have allowed some members of the media through and said they would allow food deliveries.

Minister of state for community development Joe O’Brien said the hotel did not have a fire safety certificate but there was no issue with fire safety or wastewater management at the holiday homes.

‘I just ask people to step down the blockade, I think it is done on the basis of a misunderstanding of what’s happened,’ he said.

Mr O’Brien said there is ongoing work at the hotel and people would not be accommodated there until it is safe.

He added that there are 500 asylum seekers without accommodation and the Government is ‘looking at every possible angle and every possible case’.

On concerns about the isolated location of the holiday homes, Mr O’Brien told RTE’s Today with Claire Byrne that a shuttle bus would be provided to Ennis for asylum seekers who wanted to access services there.

There were tense exchanges outside the centre with some asylum seekers wanting to leave over concerns for their safety and lack of satisfaction with the accommodation.

Some asylum seekers took their belongings and left them outside in preparation for leaving, while others said they were happy to stay.

Sultan Muhammad, from Afghanistan, said he came to Ireland five months ago and had been staying in Citywest in Dublin.

He described the situation Co Clare as ‘difficult’ but said the accommodation was ‘okay’.

‘We are feeling good here. I like this place. I like it, I will live here.’

A Fianna Fail TD for Clare said there has been a lack of information about the accommodation of asylum seekers at the site and ‘someone has put the cart before the horse’.

Asylum seekers outside the accommodation at the Magowna House hotel in Inch, Co Clare

Asylum seekers outside the accommodation at the Magowna House hotel in Inch, Co Clare

Asylum seekers leaving the accommodation

Asylum seekers leaving the accommodation

Last year, Clare county council decided Magowna House in Inch was unsuitable for accommodation for Ukrainian refugees, he said.

‘Magowna House could not be used.

‘It wasn’t fit for purpose last night so they’re crammed into ancillary buildings on the site and I just think someone has put the cart before the horse here,’ Mr Crowe told RTE’s Morning Ireland.

‘I would take the view that if you’re going to bring people to a facility, it should be safe, it should be a sanitary environment.

‘It’s questionable if Magowna House is at that level yet.’

Mr Crowe said he hopes to meet with the minister for equality and integration Roderic O’Gorman this afternoon.

He said the protesters are ‘entitled to their concerns’.

He said he visited the hotel earlier that day and saw it being fitted with beds.

‘I went out because there was a lack of information and my office was being bombarded with emails and phone calls,’ he said.

‘We did get a briefing note from the Department late on Thursday but there was still a lot of stuff I couldn’t answer.

‘It [the briefing note] related to the mechanics of the situation: that there would be a contract between the department and the owner, that it would initially be for a 12-month duration, that there would be a manager on site, that meals would be cooked on site and that it would be for men in the international protection system.’



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