A Wintry Welcome



Clonea Strand Hotel outside Dungarvan, Co. Waterford

Last night, RTÉ reporter Frances Shanahan, on Drivetime, broadcast a piece on the 32 Syrian refugees who are now living in Clonea Strand Hotel near Dungarvan, Co. Waterford – where they’re expected to reside for six to eight weeks.

The hotel had been closed for some time but was reopened for the Syrian families and their children, after the Department of Justice did a deal with the hotel’s owners.

The Syrians arrived in Ireland last Thursday, after travelling from UN camps in Lebanon.

Ms Shanahan spoke with several people from the area, including local [Independent] councillor Seamus O’Domnhaill – who felt Clonea Strand Hotel is too isolated a location for the families.

Cllr Seamus O’Domnhaill: “Clonea is four miles from Dungarvan town. It’s a seaside place. Step out from the hotel and you’re on the beach.”

Frances Shanahan: “A lovely place to be in the summer, a gorgeous place for holidays but in the middle of winter with the rain pouring down, is this a suitable location for refugees?”

Cllr O’Domnhaill: “No it’s not a suitable location. Now, I’m not against the refugees. The problem with the refugees is we have no shops here, in Clonea. There’s no transport out of Clonea and what I’m worried about is how will they get around from A to B. That is my problem.”

Shanahan: “You think they’re very isolated here?”

Cllr O’Domnhaill: “Very isolated. I’m kind of surprised that they’re coming in there at all actually and that the Government would allow them to be there…”

Shanahan: “Well they’re staying in a hotel which, you know, was closed. So it’s good business for the hotel.”

Cllr O’Domnhaill: “Well I suppose it’s business for the hotel but in my view it wouldn’t be for the local people, it wouldn’t be good business for them because we have a huge caravan site just here, at the back, I’m afraid he’s going to be affected in a very big way with these refugees. It will effect tourism coming in as well. Now I’ve spoken to quite a number of people and they say that the refugees in Clonea, that they will not be coming in there.”

 Shanahan: “Is there no welcome for the refugees in Co. Waterford?”

Cllr O’Domnhaill: “Well, in my view, we don’t know anything at all about them. And I’d be worried about that part.”

Shanahan: “And is there any way of finding out about them? Or making contact and extending a welcome to them? To help them in some way to integrate?”

Cllr O’Domnhaill: “I do not know because it’s quite a bit out from Dungarvan and they have no English, I suppose, and they’ve no bit of Irish, they’ve nothing. I believe they have chefs laid on for them here in the hotel and they have interpreters and they have psychologists and so on but that’s not much good to them either, is it?”

Shanahan: There’s nobody to liaise with  the local community, or introduce them?”

Cllr O’Domnhaill: “No, there’s nobody around here who’d be able for the like of that.”

Good times.

Listen back in full here

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28 thoughts on “A Wintry Welcome

    1. MajorThrill

      The easy thing would be to compare them to Craggy Island but even Craggy Island managed to throw a party to welcome the Chinese family.

    1. realPolithicks

      He shouted at them as he was driving by, nobody answered, so obviously they don’t speak English.

  1. pooter

    Councillors. Dont you just love their antics. There should be a Zoo for councillors, where we could all go and look at them performing their tricks.

  2. Mysterybeat

    How dis this eejit get about 1000 votes and my mate couldn’t, and him promising a bypass and everything!

  3. Liam from Lixnaw

    If ye have ever been there, there is absolutely nothing in Clonea besides this hotel and a little store that probably opens only in summer – and he is correct they wont be able to get to Dungarvan. I too find it a little odd that the location was chosen – perhaps it was selected as it has a facility to house the Syrian folks and literally no local residents to object

    1. kellma

      and yet they still find ridiculous reasons to object……… This conversation with the esteemed councillor makes me sad…. What these people will have gone through and then to be met with such a lack of empathy or willingness to try from this man and those who are hammering on his door about these “blow ins”.
      This man is pathetic.

  4. Richie

    I know Clonea well and in fairness it’s a stupid place to put them: it’s 6kms outside of Dungarvan with no public transport whatsoever and two tiny shops that sell little more than burgers & chips and buckets & spades. How the DoJ put them there is beyond me

    1. kellma

      If they put them in Dungarvan you can bet this councillor would not even attempt to show feigned concern. He would be going straight in for the “can’t speak English or Irish” argument. NIMBY!

  5. Truth in the News

    I’m surprised there here at all, given there’s an election coming up, until its
    over they will be hidden out of sight, how come that they are not put into
    Farmleigh or the Vice Regal Lodge with Sabina and Micheal D, indeed Alan
    has a good few places that he can offer accomodation in, even Mary has
    Massbrook House and the aptly named Victoria House in Ballina.
    This plan is not going too well in Germany either as to Denmark they have
    gone all hostile, who is responsible for the mess.

  6. Demon

    What a lovely chance for the neighbours to throw a great hooley to welcome them and introduce themselves, club together to raise money for a few bikes – 6km is about a half-hour cycle, and it’s a lovely area – and maybe bring people out on some nice scenic club rides.

    1. DubLoony

      No one could knock on the door to say hiya to them? Maybe offer a lift to the local town? Have a conversation evening to help with language skills?

      It’s does sound like a stupid isolated place to put them. Deeply traumatised having escaped syria and now apparently abandoned to the tender mercies of a local councillor. Have they not suffered enough?!

      1. Tinny

        True Most of the locals would probably be like most Irish people I met totally welcoming its just the bigots having the loudest voice again. As a migrant in Ireland this man sound particularly un-Irish…
        Cead mile failte and all…

  7. JoeO

    I heard that on the radio. It was nauseating. Please, progressive people of Clonea and Dungarvan and west Waterford, will ye please stand up and let the world know that this Councillor doesn’t speak for all of you. I know in my heart, please let my heart be true, that people down there will come out and welcome these poor craythurs to Clonea and let them know we are there for them.

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