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.”
Listen back in full here