Hotellier Marcus White had confirmed that a contract has been signed to allow for the opening of a direct provision centre in one of his Lisdoonvarna hotels.
The centre is now expected to open at the King Thomond Hotel next week.
There has been strong opposition to this direct provision centre since details first emerged two weeks ago.
In that time, three public meetings have been held in Lisdoonvarna, with one of those seeing nearly 200 local people vote against the opening of the facility, representing 93% of those who cast ballots on that occasion.
Marcus White attended one of those meetings, and in a statement to Clare FM acknowledges that concerns expressed by the local community focussed on the impact of the centre on local schools, the creche and medical care.
The statement from Marcus White also accepts that a commitment was given that “if the people of Lisdoonvarna did not want the contract to go ahead, then it would not.”
However, despite that opposition, it does go ahead, with Mr. White saying that while “there are a number of people who don’t want the contract to be signed, there are equally a number that do.”
He’s also satisfied that local concerns will be addressed by the Reception and Integration Agency and Department of Justice.
The contract will last for 12 months, and that point Mr. White says the situation will be reviewed.
The Department of Justice has also confirmed that it’s discussions with the contractor have concluded – It’s expected that the centre will accommodate up to 115 asylum seekers, and that it will welcome the first of those next Monday.
Clare’s Senator Martin Conway says now that pen has been put to paper, there’s no doubt but that it’s going ahead.
Martin Conway says the way in which the entire situation has been handled by the department has been appalling:
The following statement has been issued to Clare FM by Marcus White
JAMES WHITE & COMPANY LIMITED T/A THE KING THOMOND HOTEL
On the 8th of January 2018 the Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) published a notice in the national papers and the EU Journal seeking expressions of interest to offer full board accommodation on behalf of the Irish State to persons seeking international protection. James White & Company Limited submitted an expression of interest and proceeded then to contractual discussions with representatives of the RIA. Those contractual discussions concluded on the 16th of February 2018 when agreement was reached between our organisation and the RIA. The RIA then proceeded to inform the local public representatives of their decision on the 20th of February 2018 as is their protocol. The decision was then formally publicised once the public representatives had been informed.
As an organisation we wanted to ensure that the requirements of the State, those seeking international protection and the local community were considered and addressed in so far as they could be addressed. A public meeting was held on the 23rd day of February 2018 and a number of concerns were raised by the local community at that meeting. These concerns had also been previously aired in the local media. Through the various meetings and media, the following were the main concerns of the local community: –
1. Creche facilities.
2. School facilities.
3. Medical Care.
The RIA has assured us that they will address any issues that might arise in respect of these areas. We have the utmost confidence in the State, the RIA and the Department of Justice and Equality to deal with same. They have extensive experience and resources and are committed to making this project work for all concerned and at the same time helping these people who have suffered such tragedy and persecution.
In light of these commitments we have decided to enter a contract with the Department of Justice and Equality for the provision of full board accommodation to persons seeking international protection for a period of one year. The limited duration of the contract gives all parties the opportunity to monitor the delivery of the services and any issues that might arise and how those issues are addressed.
We gave a commitment in the lead up to this point that if all of the people of Lisdoonvarna did not want the contract to go ahead then it would not. There have been various meetings and while there is certainly a number of people that do not want the contract to be signed, there are equally a number that do. Those that don’t raised their concerns regarding certain facilities as outlined above and we are satisfied that those concerns will be addressed by the RIA and the Department.
We will review the situation at the expiry of the year to determine whether the commitments made have been met. Our objective now is to ensure that the delivery of the service lives up to the very high standards that we strive for as an organisation and, in those circumstances, we will be focusing on that and no further public comment will be made by us.
Statement from the Department Of Justice:
We can confirm that discussions were concluded with the contractor on 16th February 2018 and the contracts formally signed on Monday, 5th March 2018.