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Dozens of protesters at hotel to house asylum seekers

Around 50 people have gathered outside the Racket Hall hotel on the outskirts of Roscrea, Co Tipperary, to protest at its selection as a location to house 160 International Protection applicants.

News emerged yesterday among local representatives and TDs who had been informed by the Department of Integration that Racket Hall was to provide temporary emergency accommodation for International Protection applicants for a year.

Local people have gathered outside the premises saying that the town is now at full capacity for accommodating those seeking refugee status.

The convent in the town is housing up to 400 asylum seekers and the former Sean Ros Abbey is housing a further 200.

People who have gathered say “enough is enough” and that services in the town are stretched beyond capacity.

They say now their only hotel is being taken over to house asylum applicants.

Signs from protesters at the Racket Hall hotel near Roscrea

They say they are not being racist or from any political grouping but are expressing their genuine fears and concerns about their communities being overwhelmed.

Tipperary Independent TD Michael Lowry said he is extremely annoyed at the development, saying the sheer scale of this latest development is overwhelming for the people of Roscrea.

Speaking on local radio, Mr Lowry said the numbers being brought into Roscrea are disproportionate to what the town can cope with, which is now stretched beyond capacity.

He has also criticised the Government over their lack of consultation. Mr Lowry said efforts up to now have been an imposition, not a consultation.

While he has supported the Government on many issues, Mr Lowry said he was extremely unhappy with the way it has handled the issue.

The Independent TD said it can no longer rely on his support on its current policy of dealing with housing international refugees seeking accommodation in Ireland.

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Speaking on RTÉ’s News at One, Minister for Higher Education Simon Harris said he had “full respect” for Mr Lowry’s position.

“What I would say to him and all public representatives is that this is not a matter of Government policy, this is the Government responding to an emergency and trying to find shelter to put a roof over people’s head,” Mr Harris said.

“People in every community have a right to have concerns, to ask questions and seek information when there is to be any change in a village or town, that’s human nature.

“The Government policy is to move beyond this scenario where we are having to make use of whatever is available to provide shelter and to try to get to a point where we are less reliant on the private market, where we have a State-owned response to this.”

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