Plans to house 80 asylum seekers at the Shannon Key West Hotel in Rooskey hit a major stumbling block in recent days after an appeal was made to An Bord Pleanála against the change of use of the hotel.
The outcome of this appeal is not expected to be known for another 18 weeks, which would mean any potential accommodation centre being delayed until at least July.
Leitrim County Council had been notified last November of the Department of Justice’s intention to use the hotel as an accommodation centre for “those in the international protection process”. The Department had subsequently sought confirmation that the hotel had no planning or fire safety issues.
On January 16th of this year, the question of whether turning the hotel into such a centre was or was not an exempted development, was raised by Rooskey resident. On February 12th, Leitrim County Council concluded that it was exempt, citing Section 3 of the Planning and Development Acts 2000-2018. The matter has been referred to An Bord Pleanála. Meanwhile, the Leitrim and Roscommon United Against Racism group has released a statement expressing its regret at the manner in which the “the sudden emergence of ‘legal issues’ around the use of the hotel gives an impression that the state has bowed down in the face of a spate of racist arson attacks”. The hotel had been the scene of two suspected arson attacks in recent weeks.
The anti-racism group continued: “We feel for the eighty people waiting somewhere in Dublin in a holding centre waiting for placement who now have nowhere to go. They are the most vulnerable people in this whole situation. They are not just numbers.
“We believe they should now be housed in communities in this general area in the empty housing stock we see all around us – and be allowed work while they await the outcome of their applications for asylum”. The group described the Direct Provision system as a “fundamentally oppressive system” and claimed it led an “increasingly ugly stain on our society and communities”.