Moving a reported 150 asylum seekers into “temporary accommodation” in the Westmeath town of Kinnegad has reportedly led to considerable local disquiet.
This is not solely because of the sudden transfer – without any local consultation or notification – of 150 migrants to a town with an official population of less than 3,000, but because of what appear to be complaints regarding the behaviour of some of the men concerned,
Labour Party Councillor Denis Leonard responded yesterday to representations from local people. He contacted Minister Roderic O’Gorman “outlining how outrageous this decision is and how unsuitable the arrangement is for all concerned.” He has also requested a response from the Gardaí in the light of reports of incidents which have included the alleged sexual harassment of local women and a girl of 14.
Activists and NGO employees within the migrancy sector have reacted to the concerns by basically accusing anyone in Kinnegad who has expressed concerns of racism. One group has claimed that local residents have called on the Irish army to be deployed to Kinnegad but not responded to requests to substantiate this.
Roos Demol of Recruit Refugees Ireland posted a tweet in which she appears to suggest that the men staying in Harry’s Hotel were protesting because the pizzas they had been promised for their dinner were ten minutes late.
Local people, including one woman who claimed that a group of men from the hotel had been filming children in a playground, responded by stating that her concern was solely to do with the behaviour reported, and nothing whatsoever to do with their race or the fact that they are asylum seekers.