Locals are blocking the entrance to Magowna House in Inch, County Clare amid a protest over the housing of 34 asylum seekers at the hotel.
It was reported that the protest started last night when some 50 people used vehicles including tractors and cars to block the entrance to the hotel.
Blockade continues at Magowna House Hotel, Inch Co. #Clare after arrival of 34 #asylumseekers last night- locals say they won’t allow others in to unsuitable site- Reporting @TodaywithClaire @RTERadio1 pic.twitter.com/MjvaXpTwju
— John Cooke (@johncookeradio) May 16, 2023
Residents of the area learned last Friday night that the building which is reported to have been unused since 2019 had been earmarked for asylum seeker accommodation.
At approximately 6:30pm yesterday evening a bus carrying 35 asylum seekers arrived at the hotel which is located about 5 miles west of Ennis.
Local RTÉ correspondent Peter O’Connell described the area as “rural” saying that the nearest shop was ‘about a mile away’ and that local residents had voiced concern over what they called the lack of consultation saying that they felt “ignored”.
He said that although protectors were “very polite” in allowing local access on the blocked roads, they were “very determined” that no more buses carrying asylum seekers would pass through.
Local man Cathal Nagel said the arrival of the asylum seekers was “a surprise” and unexpected as he understood that some “public representatives were planning to talk to the department”.
“We weren’t expecting anyone to arrive today,” he said.
He said that a “lack of communication” had “caused tension” saying that he didn’t think there was ill will towards those arriving to the area but rather that there was frustration towards the government.
He emphasised the rural location of the hotel saying that it was 8km from the location to the centre of Ennis.
“What are these people going to do,” he asked, adding, “How are they going to spend their time, how are they going to be taken care of?”
Local woman Sheila Barry said to the “shock and horror” of locals asylum seekers were seen getting off a bus yesterday evening with their belongings despite what she says were assurances from the local council that the decision had been put on hold.
She said there was a mood of desperation among locals casting doubt on whether the building was suitable for occupation by the asylum seekers and expressing concern about the “isolation” she feels they will face in the rural area.
“It’s hard to comprehend,” she said.
Gardaí arrived at the scene about 30 mins after the blockade formed but did not attempt to remove it.
Last week the Clare Echo reported that the owners of the building had been awarded a 12 month contract to house “69 male International protection applicants”
The protest has been blocking both access points to the hotel with locals establishing twenty-four hour rosters to keep the area manned.
Participants vowed not to leave until they get answers as to why the situation came about, saying that there was no public consultation.
Overnight protests held outside Magowna House after the arrival of 34 male asylum seekers on Monday evening.
A total of 69 men are to be accommodated in Inch.
Magowna House has been closed since 2019 and was deemed unsuitable for Ukrainian refugees. https://t.co/5KP82ib0VT
— Páraic McMahon (@thepmanofficial) May 16, 2023
It was reported that a delegation of locals and local representatives have approached Clare County Council in Ennis this morning to raise their concerns.