Update 10th January | Abbeyfield Hotel, Ballaghaderreen - Plans to open an Emergency Orientation and Reception Centre for Refugees
I am extremely disappointed that there has been no engagement or consultation with the people of Ballaghaderreen, we deserve better than this. We are a very close-knit community and this type of project needs community support to be successful. We are a welcoming people in Ballaghaderreen and it is very much a multicultural town. I understand fully that Ballaghaderreen and County Roscommon must play our part and do our fair share in terms of supporting refugees who have been through horrific experiences. Doing our fair share involves ensuring that the number of people we help is linked directly to the capacity of the town to provide a highly supportive environment. It also means ensuring specialist and additional resources are provided such as GP’s, teachers, nurses, interpreters, psychologists, dieticians among others.
I am concerned that Department of Justice officials have assessed the Abbeyfield Hotel site with it's 40 bedrooms and 29 apartments as having the potential to accommodate up to 250 people at any one time. We must absolutely ensure that we are realistic and practical about the number of people on site at any one time in terms of Ballaghaderreen’s capacity to care for these people and provide the support they need.
I have meetings with Department Officials on Wednesday to discuss these plans in depth and to communicate the concerns of the Ballaghaderreen community. I am not convinced at all that sufficient plans are in place for this at present. I have emphasised strongly to Minister David Stanton and Minister Frances Fitzgerald that we need to know what extra resources and support services will be put in place in order to be convinced that these people will be properly supported.