*Ellen Cunningham and Mike McNamara. Photograph: John Mangan

NO COMMUNITY has the capacity to say no to refugees, a Clare Senator has told a public meeting in Scariff.

Clare Lakelands Hotel is to come into use as an accommodation centre for international protection applicants, this week.

77 people are to be accommodated across 26 bedrooms at the former hotel which closed over fifteen years ago but has been the subject of renovations in recent years and is located on the main street of Scariff. A valid fire certificate is in place for the building.

Most of the individuals coming to Scariff will be new arrivals to the country and will be eligible to work, six months from their arrival in Ireland.

Speaking at a public meeting in advance of their arrival, Senator Timmy Dooley (FF) told local residents. “No community has the capacity to say no, they might not like it, they might want some assurance, assistance and help but it is not possible for any community to say we won’t take anybody here”.

Publican Mike McNamara told the meeting, “It is an awful pity” that the owner of the hotel was not present to respond to queries from Scariff residents.

Manager of the facility, Seamus Murphy was invited to attend, organiser Ellen Cunningham told the meeting.

Cllr Pat Hayes (FF) claimed at the meeting that the previous owner of the building, Tom Anderson had sold it.

Lack of information was criticised by McNamara. He stated, “I’ve travelled all over the world and met marvellous people, we have a marvellous town but it is the lack of information”. The former Clare hurling manager added, “As it stands, we are no clearer now as to when I came in here an hour ago, we’re probably less clear and now it is totally confusing.

This point was previously raised by Cllr Hayes. “As a councillor in relation to international refugees into the county or Ukrainian people, we’re the last and really we’re not told, information doesn’t come directly to Councils in relation to what is happening in communities, we’re hearing through the media and different forums, there is a real information about information, the lack of information is the big issue and then the rumour machine, I could walk from one end of the street to the other and I’d hear ten different stories, everyone telling me different, I have nothing officially in front of me”. He added, “The lack of information leads to speculation, the fact that a lot of single men came to Inch left a sour taste for everybody, I’ve been in the town of Scariff all day and the owner of the hotel showed me inside, he was asked if he would go to Inch and it was suitable, he said Scariff was a public town with sewerage, lighting and everything that goes with it, he saw an opportunity and is a businessman, he gave me a tour of the hotel”.

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If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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