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Home / News / O’Gorman to meet councillors over Drogheda hotel plan

O’Gorman to meet councillors over Drogheda hotel plan

Minister for Integration Roderic O’Gorman is meeting local Drogheda councillors this evening over plans to use the D Hotel to accommodate up to 500 asylum seekers.

The Taoiseach has said that the Government’s preference was for the hotel to have a “dual use”, where it could be used for both international protection applicants and visitors.

International Protection Applicants are set to start arriving at the 113-bedroom hotel in the centre of Drogheda from 5 March.

Details of the two-year contract between the Department of Integration and the D Hotel emerged last week.

Since then, concerns have been raised by local TDs and councillors about the impact the loss of the hotel will have on the town, business and tourism.

It is estimated that the loss of hotel beds for visitors and tourists will come at a cost of more than €5 million to the local economy.

The hotel has said its function rooms and bar will continue to be open to the public.

A spokesperson for the hotel it will not be possible to have a “dual use” due to child protection issues.

Mr O’Gorman yesterday met with representatives from the business community in Drogheda, who described the meeting as “comprehensive” and “frank”.

The Drogheda District Chamber represents around 200 businesses in the town.

President of the Chamber Hubert Murphy said the news last week led to shock and anger.

“The town here has lacked bedrooms for many years, for conferences, for weddings, so to lose such a volume was an incredible shock. There was a degree of anger as well,” he said.

Mr Murphy said he believed the “dual purpose” proposal for the d hotel could be the solution in Drogheda.

“I think the dual purpose idea for the D hotel is viable, it can work. It’s going to take some compromise from all sides, but if the town is at the heart of all these discussions, I think it can happen,” he said.

Mr Murphy said that businesses acknowledged that the minister has a job to do and that there is a humanitarian crisis.

He said: “We represent the town. We put forward that the tourism business is huge and is a challenge, and we needed to get our message across that we need assistance after this decision.

“How we do that, we will go back with ideas and suggestions. The bottom line is, this is going to be about compromise, we’re going to have to find solutions one way or the other.”

Also at that meeting, was CEO of Love Drogheda BIDS Trevor Connolly.

The group tasked with promoting Drogheda as a great place to live, work and visit.

The group has also been working on building tourism capacity in the town in recent years, developing a series of festivals and events, including the Lú Festival of light, the St Patrick’s festival and a new comedy festival launching on 8 March.

Mr Connolly said that losing the 113 bedrooms in the hotel means losing 56% of the town centre capacity and losing more than €5m from the local economy.

He said that they sought a number of different commitments from the minister, including that an economic impact assessment be conducted and also that if any contracts are entered, they are for a set term.

Mr Connolly said: “Across the country, this is happening in towns and villages across the country, where you have a number of organisations looking to build up tourism capacity and then it’s been stripped from those areas.

“It’s about the local economy. You have the humanitarian crisis but you have to balance that with the needs of the local economy. If Drogheda had 1,000 beds, the loss of 100 may not be as significant as in the current situation.”

Mr Connolly said that Love Drogheda’s preference would be that the hotel remains as visitor accommodation.

“In terms of dual use, I believe that is going to be investigated by the Department. The Taoiseach has made a comment on that and our own political representatives in Dáil Éireann made very strong comment on that yesterday afternoon as well and we appreciate that,” he said.

If the dual use proposal came to pass, Mr Connolly said: “We would have to be supportive of any measure that can ensure we still have visitor accommodation in our town centre to help support the events and festivals that we are trying to grow.”

In the Dáil yesterday, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the Government is working towards the D Hotel having a dual use, with both asylum seekers and tourists using the facility.

Mr Varadkar said that dual use was the Government’s preference “if at all possible”, and it has been done in other areas.

He added “we think that’s the best solution” and “I’m sure all those things can be sorted out”.

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