TD criticises ‘suddenness’ of proposed asylum centre in County Limerick

Independent Ireland TD Richard O'Donoghue speaking in the Dáil.

A LIMERICK TD has hit out at the ‘suddenness” of an announcement that over 30 International Protection Applicants are due to be accommodated at a former B&B in Galbally, County Limerick.

Speaking in the Dáil, Rural Ireland Independent TD Richard O’Donoghue criticised moves to house 33 protection applicants at the former Thomond House B&B in Galbally.

The building, which was on the market last year at a price close to €400,000, was confirmed last month by the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration, and Youth as part of a tranch of five temporary accommodation centres nationwide – including the former Salesian school at Fernbank in Limerick City.

The eight-bedroom self-catering facility will house up to 33 Ukrainian refugees in a 24-month contract.

“I got an email from the local authority to say that a 4,500 square-foot premises, Thomond House, had been sold in Galbally,” Deputy O’Donoghue said in the Dáil chamber.

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He claimed that “nobody in the community was contacted, but the local authority sent us an email. Despite a lack of services there, they want to move 31 people into 4,500 square feet.”

Deputy O’Donoghue said he was taken aback by the suddenness of the move to bring asylum seekers to the former B&B.

“I have helped women and children from Ukraine by putting a roof over their heads in areas in Limerick. I also looked to protect them and give them the space in the area to make sure they can develop and be involved in our community.

“However, from the point of facts, putting 31 people into a 4,500 square-foot  building with no services to get them in and out of there makes no sense,” he claimed.

Social Democrats TDs Gary Gannon and Jennifer Whitmore asked if Deputy O’Donoghue “has been a beneficiary of money from providing accommodation”, to which he replied that he had nothing to declare.

“Ireland is not saying that it does not want to protect the people of Ukraine. Yes, it does, but it wants to give them a quality of life, not put them in tents or in buildings with no services,” he replied.

“Since January, approximately 2,400 beds have been brought into use for those seeking accommodation by the international protection accommodation services,” Minister of State for Integration Joe O’Brien said.

“That said, week in, week out, we are opening new accommodation centres in communities across the country.

“Thankfully, by and large, they go unremarked upon because, for the most part, local communities have welcomed these new arrivals and people are getting on with their lives – including those people trying to build a new life in a new country with all the hardship that entails.”