Kelly Meets With Minister O’Gorman Regarding Roscrea Asylum Seekers

17 January 2024

Deputy Alan Kelly met with Minister Roderic O’Gorman at lunch time today regarding issues around asylum seekers in Roscrea.

During the meeting, a long discussion took place surrounding the need for criteria to be in place before a decision is made to remove a community facility like the Racket Hall hotel in Roscrea from use by the local community.

A discussion also took place regarding the future needs of Roscrea across a range of areas.

Deputy Kelly said:

“It cannot just be case that hotel owners simply for commercial reasons put forward a hotel and that is just accepted. The Government have to look at the wider implications of this for the relevant community. Also, the Department need to take on board other pressures in the area on health, education and social services.

“Furthermore, the Government needs to look at the proportionality of where they are choosing to locate asylum seekers and refugees. In Roscrea for example, there is a total population of approximately 5,500 people and to create a 15% population increase in a short space of time when other towns and cities have nowhere near that needs to be looked at.

“Put simply, the Government needs to provide more accommodation where there are better services and that means cities across the country and in particular Dublin. I see many buildings across Dublin city that are vacant and some are even owned by the state and I have no idea why they are not been used? Why is Baggot Street Hospital vacant for instance?

“While I support the concept of reopening Grants hotel in Roscrea as part of a town centric plan, it shouldn’t have taken the events of the last week to promote this as a concept. It would be good for the town, but it is certainly not a ‘game changer’ for Roscrea. I feel this reactionary decision is demonstrably the greatest example of flawed Government policy.

“Made up on the hoof, that needs to change immediately. The Government are now spending taxpayers’ money leasing the last hotel in the town and then spending more taxpayers money, buying, renovating, registering, commissioning, staffing and opening the one that has been closed for 13 years easily demonstrates a crazy policy.

“Also, what are the timelines? It will take years to achieve this.

“I and the Labour Party support refugees of all kind and understand the need to meet our international commitments with compassion and kindness and I never want to see the scenes I saw in Roscrea last Monday ever again. It does not reflect the people of the town who I’ve always found to be amongst the finest I’ve ever met.

“I have made proposals to the Minister across a range of issues and he needs to look at them as regards how to resolve the issues in Roscrea. He needs to relook at Government policy immediately. He needs to build reception centers. He needs to find appropriate accommodation in areas that haven’t taken a fair share and all of this needs to be done within set criteria that are transparent.

“In Roscrea, he should look at ensuring the Government agree to temporarily having a lower pupil teacher ratio to help schools and provide on site health clinics from the HSE to ease the burden on local GPs etc. Defined transport strategies are needed along with social integration plans with the local community. Roscrea does not have a family resource center and needs one now.

“I have always found Minister O’Gorman to be approachable and I hope he listens and acts on our discussions today and I would be happy to brief any group or groups in Roscrea on these discussions.”

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