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18th Jun 2020

Healy-Rae objected to emergency Direct Provision centre, as Kerry hotels were needed for Kerry people

Rob O'Hanrahan

“Any empty hotels etc within Kerry bounds should be kept for KERRY PEOPLE”.

Kerry TD Danny Healy-Rae raised concerns with the Department of Justice about a Direct Provision centre in Cahersiveen, and agreed with a constituent that Kerry hotels should be reserved for Kerry people who may potentially need to self-isolate.

The Skellig Star Hotel Direct Provision centre has been a huge cause for controversy in recent months, a cluster of Covid-19 broke out in the centre after asylum seekers were transported on short notice from multiple other centres to the hotel in Cahersiveen without prior testing.

In correspondence obtained by JOE under the Freedom of Information Act, Danny Healy-Rae forwarded an email to the Department of Justice, in which a “concerned resident from Caherciveen” said “if an EPIDEMIC of the COVID-19 virus should outbreak in Caherciveen the beds in this Hotel will be needed by local residents… This should be STOPPED IMMEDIATELY. Any empty hotels etc within Kerry bounds should be kept for KERRY PEOPLE”.

When raising this email with the Department, Deputy Healy-Rae said that “I agree with what he is saying about the hotel being needed for local people who contact [sic] COVID-19”.

Danny Healy-Rae also raised concerns about the lack of communication with the local community of Cahersiveen, something Minister for Justice and Equality Charlie Flanagan has apologised for, and in his email Deputy Healy-Rae also said that this absence of information “does not help with the acceptance of the asylum seekers”.

During a debate on “supporting inclusion and combatting racism in Ireland” in the Dáil on Wednesday, Deputy Healy-Rae claimed that “all lives matter… even the small unborn babies that we fought so hard for here in this chamber”. He later in that speech said that Direct Provision was “wrong”, and reiterated his previous calls to shut down the Skellig Star Hotel.

Healy-Rae said that the hotel was too small to accommodate children and they were either cooped up inside on fine days or going down into the town of Cahersiveen, which Deputy Healy-Rae said there was “problems” with when the Covid-19 cluster broke out in the Direct Provision centre. He also said Ireland should only be allowing the amount of refugees into Ireland that “we could care for properly”

Last week, JOE revealed that a local Fianna Fáil Councillor contacted the Department of Justice to clarify the nationalities of asylum seekers moving to the area. Michael Cahill said that “a rumour went around that it was 150 Nigerian men that were coming to the town”, and raised concerns with the Department about “uproar in the locality”.

Deputy Healy-Rae did not respond to requests from JOE for comment.


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