A row between local residents, Government, and a prominent local business family over the provision of direct provision has broken out in Carrickmacross, County Monaghan, where over 1,100 people have signed a petition saying that they no longer feel safe walking through their own town because of large groups of migrants congregating in the centre of the town, and an allegation of sexual assault against a local woman.

As reported by The Journal earlier this year, the Government has paid €1.6m to a company, Trenthall Ltd, to accommodate Asylum seekers in the Monaghan area. Trenthall Ltd Is owned and operated by the McEnaney family, whose most prominent member, Seamus “Banty” McEnaney is the Monaghan GAA Manager:

“THE GOVERNMENT HAS paid over €1.6 million to a private contractor to source emergency accommodation for asylum seekers since September 2018. 

Trenthall Ltd is contracted by the Department of Justice to find accommodation in the Cavan-Monaghan area following increased pressure on its Reception and Integration Agency (RIA). 

Separate to the 6,162 people living in Direct Provision centres around Ireland, there are currently 195 people living in hotels and B&Bs in the Cavan-Monaghan area, according to RIA.”

Last year, Mr. McEnaney made a €2.5m settlement to the Revenue Commissioners, after appearing on the tax defaulters list.

Gript understands that Trenthall is not the only company involved in the settling of refugees in Carrickmacross, and that another man, Sean Jones, is also involved in accomodating non-nationals in the town, for profit.

Trenthall accommodates Asylum Seekers in Hotels, but has been criticised for how it treats them. Earlier this year, it was reported that the company kicks Asylum Seekers out of its hotels in order to accommodate wedding parties – maximising profit:

Trenthall is run by former Monaghan County manager Seamus ‘Banty’ McEnaney.

Treacys Hotel’s contract is with Trenthall and it provides up to 35 rooms to the company when possible. Treacys Hotel is also a working resort which hosts weddings and other functions. This means when the hotel has other bookings all 124 residents pack up their belongings and are moved to another premises.

This happened on at least two occasions last year when the hotel was booked for functions. And it will continue to happen in the future as the hotel plans to accept future bookings, as is its right.

Tensions in Carrickmacross appear to have escalated in recent days after a young woman alleged that she was sexually assaulted in her own home by a migrant housed locally. The allegation has been widely shared amongst locals, although at this point it remains only an allegation, and no arrests have been made. It is not known whether a crime has been reported to the Gardai in relation to the matter. Various posts speculating about the identity and nationality of the alleged perpetrator are swirling online, but several of them differ in relation to the alleged facts. The allegation has also not been reported in any local, or national, media outlet until this point. However, it is widely believed, and appears to be contributing to a sense of injustice.

Residents have set up their own facebook group to discuss and debate the alleged problems in the town – at present, it has 1,044 members.

The primary complaint of residents is that the accommodation of so many migrants in Carrickmacross has led to large gangs, mainly of young men, congregating on the main street of the town at all hours of the day:

A local resident who spoke to Gript, but who wished to remain anonymous, said that there were grave fears in the town that the situation would be made worse by the fact that it is widely believed that local business people were actively seeking to expand the accommodations for Asylum Seekers in the town, and to open more direct provision centres in the locality:

“Nobody will listen to us. We have tried contacting every major newspaper, and RTE, but they have no interest in the story whatsoever. People here are living in fear. A woman was assaulted sexually in her own home. You have older people who won’t go into town to go to the shops because they feel intimidated. You have young women who won’t go out on a Friday night because they fear for their safety. Our town is being turned into a kind of ghost town where the local residents stay behind closed doors and the gangs roam the streets. It’s like something out of the wild west. If something isn’t done soon, I genuinely worry that there will be vigilante acts carried out against these migrants, which will ruin the reputation and image of our town.”

Last night, as tensions seemed to increase, local Sinn Fein representatives issued a statement:

“Sinn Féin representatives are aware of the concerns of people in Carrickmacross regarding the issue of large groups of people congregating in parts of the town over recent times.

We know the anxiety this has caused and will work with others to resolve it.

We have already spoken to and are due to meet with senior Garda representatives to discuss further measures to address these concerns.

This is about public safety and about all those who live in our great town feeling comfortable while walking the streets. This is not, and should not be turned into, a racial issue…..

…The department of justice has outsourced the housing of those seeking international protection to private companies. There has been no engagement with the local community; in fact public service providers, including the council, have been unaware of developments until after they have happened. This has created tension that is unfair on both the local community and the asylum seekers.

Those seeking asylum have been placed in Carrickmacross or surrounding areas, sometimes in very remote local locations, without adequate facilities. They have no idea how long they will be there for or the length of time they will be waiting for their asylum application to be addressed. That is not fair on them.

Neither is it fair on local residents who wake up to find that they have new neighbours (ofttimes numerous) without any consultation or information regarding the duration of residence etc. Neither are they are offered clarity regarding the provision of public services; when it is almost impossible to get a GP appointment and when schools are already under pressure these are questions that people have a right to ask…”

The Government has in recent days said that this year has seen an increase of 50% in Asylum applications. It is actively seeking new private business partners to accommodate Asylum seekers. Fianna Fáil, meantime, has proposed that Irish families be encouraged to take Asylum seekers as lodgers.