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Protest over use of Drogheda hotel for asylum seekers

Hundreds of protestors have gathered in Drogheda to demonstrate against the use of a town centre hotel as accommodation for international protection applicants.

Up to 500 people are expected to be housed in the D Hotel from 5 March, in a two-year contract with the Department of Integration.

The hotel has 113 bedrooms and has capacity to accommodate 500 people.

Its owners have said that the hotel’s function rooms and bar will continue to be open to the public after 5 March.

Concerns have been raised over the loss of tourist accommodation in the town and the economic impact this might have.

Drogheda Borough District Councillors have estimated this loss to be in the region of €5 million per annum.

Councillors in Drogheda have written to Minister for Integration Roderic O’Gorman seeking an immediate meeting about the matter.

A policing plan has been put in place for the demonstration, along with road closures in the town.

The Marsh Road between St Mary’s Bridge and the Mill Road in Drogheda are closed between 1pm and 4pm.

Gardaí have asked the public to follow local diversions and traffic guidance on the ground.

People protesting against the use of the D Hotel as accommodation for international protection applicants (Pic: RollingNews.ie)

Meanwhile, the Taoiseach has said that the Government is working on a plan to limit the numbers of people seeking international protection being placed in the hotel, possibly by putting other local hotels, that are currently hosting Ukrainians, back into use.

Speaking in Munich, Leo Varadkar said that he was in touch with Minister O’Gorman and local TDs on the issue.

“Drogheda is a town that I know very well,” he said.

“It’s had its troubles, but it’s come on leaps and bounds in the last couple of years, [with] new roads, new housing, IDA lands for new jobs, real improvements at the hospital there.

“I understand the concerns that people have, that losing the major hotel in their town could be a major setback in terms of what has been achieved in the town in recent years.

“We are exploring solutions that, for example, might allow the hotel to continue to operate [where] it wouldn’t be fully used for international protection, or alternatively bringing some of the other hotel accommodation in the town back into use.”

He told reporters: “We understand what the councillors and TDs in Drogheda are saying, that migrants and international protection applicants are welcome in their town, but the loss of their only major functioning hotel would be such a setback given what’s been achieved for the town in recent years.”

The Taoiseach said he was worried about some people stirring trouble in the town.

“Migration is a very sensitive issue,” he said. “Migration brings out the best in some people – people who take refugees into their homes, people who welcome refugees into their schools and into their clubs and into their communities.

“It also brings out the worst in some people, with hatred and anger and racism, and I’m very conscious of that.”

Additional reporting Tony Connelly


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