Meanwhile, In Roscommon



This morning.

On Today with Sean O’Rourke.

Fine Gael senator Maura Hopkins (pictured above) was interviewed in light of reports that 80 Syrian refugees will be accommodated in a former hotel in Ballaghaderreen, Co Roscommon.

From the interview:

Maura Hopkins: “I became aware of the plan to open an emergency reception and orientation centre at the Abbeyfield Hotel in Ballaghaderreen yesterday evening and, similar to other Oireachtas representatives within the constituency. I was advised that there will be potentially 80 people from Syria, coming through Greece, having been assessed by Irish Department of Justice officials coming to Ballaghaderreen from mid to late-January.”

“And, obviously, you know, I am concerned that there hasn’t been proper consultation, that there hasn’t been proper engagement within the community in Ballaghaderreen. You would understand that, you know, Ballaghaderreen is a very close-knit community and this is our first level of awareness of this happening and these people are, who have gone through very, very difficult times, are potentially coming to Ballaghaderreen in about 10 to 15 days. So, you know, you can appreciate that, you know, actually this morning alone I’ve got numerous, numerous calls and messages from locals who are concerned that there are not proper plans in place to deal with the imminent arrival of these people. And, I mean, I’m fully supportive of the fact that, and Roscommon is aswell, in terms of playing our part and making sure that, you know, we do our fair share in terms of supporting these refugees who have been through the most awful of circumstances.”

“However, I am very concerned with regard to practical plans..”

Sean O’Rourke: “Well, now, just first of all..”

Hopkins: “And also with regards to capacity of a small, local town…”


Hopkins: “It’s more than just moving into a hotel. You know, it’s very important that there is proper and, you know, adequate engagement and consultation with the local community. As I said there, we’re ver close-knit and already this morning, I’ve had numerous, numerous calls from locals who are very concerned that there is not proper plans in place.”

“I would also mention, during my discussions yesterday evening, with the, that, you know, 80 people potentially will be coming in mid to late January but my understanding is the department have assessed this site – which has 40 bedrooms and 29 incomplete apartments as having capacity to deal with a maximum of 250 people. Now Ballaghaderreen has a population of almost 2,000 so we’re talking about 1 in 8 people so this is a major and significant potential change for our town and I certainly think, as a Ballaghaderreen person and, also, as a representative, that it’s very important that there is proper engagement and consultation and that the practicalities and plans are properly worked out.”


O’Rourke: “I think what people are hearing, from what you’re saying Senator Hopkins is more that isn’t so much an opportunity as a threat to your community. Now is that an unfair way of me to characterise it?”

Hopkins: “I certainly think it is..”

O’Rourke: “So could it be a great opportunity to help in the revival of Ballaghaderreen?”

Hopkins: “Potentially, but we need to ensure we have increased resources in order to meet these demands and in order to ensure that these people are provided with a highly supportive, safe environment that, how’d you say, that has proper resources and has a proper plan and the practicalities are worked out.”

O’Rourke: “Yeah, I just, I know my colleagues this morning were speaking and you were the person that was willing to go on record, I think there were people speaking to councillors. I mean are there concerns, for instance, about terrorism?”

Hopkins: “Not that I’m aware of. I mean the concerns that I received this morning were in relation to the resources.”

O’Rourke: “Ok.”

Hopkins: “And in relation to the capacity of Ballaghaderreen as a town to be able to cope with potentially, you know, a large number, a significant change within the town and ensuring that we have proper resources in place to deal with that.”

Pic: Fine Gael

82 thoughts on “Meanwhile, In Roscommon

  1. scottser

    that’s a lot of people coming from a situation of trauma to be landed in a town that probably doesn’t have the necessary psycho-social supports, let alone translators, education and employment opportunities etc.

        1. Casey

          Aren’t the poor creatures traumatised enough without having to get entangled with the likes of “close-knit” communities…..

    1. classter

      +1 Scottser

      Govt needs to provide the resources required to make sure it doesn’t become a shambles.

  2. Harry Molloy

    I used to pass through Ballaghadereen every time I went home. It has a creepy Motel called Spellmans, like something out of an old American novel.

    They opened the bypass last year. That was a good day.

  3. Rainy Day

    Close-knit seems to a big part of her argument….. what does that mean?…what Irish town is not close-knit?
    This is a case of ‘not in our town’ thinly veiled with a facade of mild concern for the refugees….

    1. Daisy Chainsaw

      “This is a local town for local people.”

      Or “no brown in town.” (and they don’t mean shoes!!)

    2. ahjayzis

      The whole “This is a small local town” thing too – local to bloody who?

      Basically they’re all related and married to their sisters.

    3. classter

      I completely support us taking refugees but she seems to be pretty reasonable here.

      It is pretty ridiculous to announce (assuming she is being truthful here) that the population of this tiny town (pop 1822) will increase by 4% in two weeks time!

      No consultation, no preparation, no additional funding, no translators, no introduction, nothing.

      This sort of idiocy (assumig she is not misrepresneting the situation) is what causes opposition to migration.

  4. Patrick Bateman

    To be fair though, it is her job to articulate the fears of the locals but then your risk of such a centre landing in your back yard is higher when you live in a Roscommon backwater suitably equipped with a ghost hotel.

    The reality is, however, that she’s probably also right; the refugees will be dumped there in the hotel by Government and forgotten about, with no meaningful additional investment in facilities and support made.

    In news today ‘Syrian ghetto planned for Ballaghaderreen’; maybe she hasn’t considered that many of them might decide to move back to Aleppo after they realise exactly what they’re in for?!

    1. Willie Banjo

      Her job is to articulate the fears of the locals or “There go the people. I must follow them, for I am their leader.”

      1. Marie

        Her job should be the planning of facilities for these people and her job should be to inform people. Her job is to get investment and jobs for Ballaghadereen then all the facilities would follow. Isn’t her party the one who has ignored all of Roscommon for years, trying to cut them up and divide and conquer. She needs to put on a serious face and get earning the money for the job she took on to do.

        1. classter

          Yup but two weeks notice for something like this doesn’t give much time for any serious preparation, does it?

      1. Marie

        She is from Ballaghaderreen. Are you saying she just pops up sometimes in the Dail and keep on smiling the rest of the time. What planet are you on? I say she start showing what she can do or else find another job.

  5. ollie

    So what are the “fears of the locals” based on? Skin colour? Religion?
    Think of the positives in this, increased school numbers, increased population in a dying town, and hopefully someone who can shape eyebrows.

    1. Marie

      Ballaghadereen has a big population already – has had for years. Now only the parents left at home while the children are in London, New York, Sydney or Vancouver. If there was investment in the county, that Hotel would not have gone under for another to buy for a song. And who took up the difference? The people of Ballaghadereen are well used to colour but obviously you have no idea. And the people are just concerned people whose own expectations have not been met, their children’s rights have not been met and nearly 100 refugees cannot save a town – lets be real here. As for filling the schools they are already full to capacity as are creches etc.

  6. Increasing Displacement

    How many have been brought to Dublin or Cork or any other large population centres? Just out of curiosity. They’d be a drop in the ocean there. 10% or more is high and may be a shock to the local hicks.

    But if it’s all families of Syrians would they become part of the community and be less threatening to the locals?

    I presume it’s not 200-250 disgruntled men who are going to be further irritated by getting rained on for 7/8 months of the year. Oh and not being allowed to work and feel like a normal human might also get them up in arms.

    She’s got great eyebrows. To be fair to her.

    1. Anne

      Where you one of the commenters who said you’re looking at a 350 per month rent increase?
      I left a few links on the housing figures don’t stack up thread that might be helpful.

    2. DubLoony

      They have already been assessed and would be granted asylum.
      In that case, would be allowed to work.

    3. Vote Rep #1

      Not sure if you’ve noticed but most large urban areas are currently dealing with quite a large homeless problem so I would presume that they have been sent to one of the areas that does not have such issues.

      1. Marie

        Or the Hotels new owner has the right connection because Ballaghadereen was not even on the list to take refugees. Others towns were who ticked all the boxes but Ballaghadereen were not even asked.

          1. Biguy

            200 in Mosney just before Xmas, spoke with a few, highly educated, very optimistic and thankful people. They are obviously cherry picked, all are interviewed prior to coming from Greece where most had been for 9 months to a year. I’d take 80 of them in my village over the natives who burn their rubbish down a lane etc etc etc

  7. ironcorona

    It’s probably best to get the refugees absolutely anywhere where they’re not being bombed and shot.

    Get them safe first and then worry about practical issues as they arise.

    I think it’s what I’d want if I was in the same situation.

    1. Marie

      You don’t know Arabs – they will complain like mad and are not like the Irish who might grin and bear it. That said Syrians are one of the best of the bunch. If in look after them but divert most of the rest to their Arab brothers. They will understand each other perfect. They speak the same language, pray in the same places, share similar weather and culture. Plus the Arabs have the money we so badly lack. Ou politicians and civil servants need to know that Ireland is close to breaking point. Double standards like refugees n Hotels and Tax payers on Trolleys and our less fortunate on mats on the ground and sent out to pass the day until evening time. We need to get political fixers working fast and if they cannot they must go away and let someone else succeed where they failed. Charity begins at home and we use our brains and plan for the rest of us.

      1. Nigel

        Let them complain. We can be guaranteed they’ll be given cause. Maybe we can pick up a few tips about complaining effectively from them.

      2. Casey

        not like the Irish who might grin and bear it. /
        Bah ha ha ha ha

        Shut down Broadsheet, the journal and the facebook. The Irish now grin and bear it…. bahhh hah hah

  8. DubLoony

    Assuming they are families, there are practical concerns of making sure the school has enough teachers, local doctors has access to translators who will be needed for people who have been traumatized.
    In a small place, local engagement would be important.

    Fairly haphazard in not doing that already.

  9. Pixxyman

    Sounds like 80 people being dumped in an empty hotel. Will there also be translation services? what kind of medical services are available? I’d imagine they will catch every cold and infection Ireland can throw at them.

    If they are granted asylum and start to look for work. Who will give them a job in an area with high unemployment apart from farm laboring?

    It really looks like a dump them hear and hope they go home or migrate up north.

  10. CousinJack

    Perhaps we should first worry about housing Irish people, rather than feathering the pockets of run down hotel owners in backwoods where no refugee would wish to go

    1. Rainy Day

      So should we also do a nationality check on the door of homeless hostels and turn away anyone who can’t prove they are Irish?….or go around Apollo house and ask for passports?…now what does that remind me of?

    2. ivan

      given that successive governments have shown that they don’t particularly care for housing Irish People, maybe it’s safe to say that there are no votes in doing that.

      Maybe there’s votes in this?

      1. Daisy Chainsaw

        Maybe some of the refugees will become citizens, like the Vietnamese boat people of the 70’s did. They’ll give Feshty O’Strokepuller who made sure they got the good rooms facing away from the road the nod at the next County Council elections.

          1. classter

            Do ‘they’ consider ‘boat people’ demeaning?

            Do you have an alternative moniker for the Vietnamese refugees of that era?

    3. Nigel

      Maybe we can ask the worse refugee crisis in recent history to just hold on a minute while we get our act together?

      Having said that, I think of vulnerable, traumatised, displaced people at the tender mercies of the same government currently handling the health service and the homeless crisis and I genuinely fear for the future.

      1. ivan

        and in fairness to Hopkins, she’s the only local rep (yes yes yes, I know, she’s a senator and has no constituency) who was willing to go on air and talk.

  11. Hieronymus Tosh

    If shitty gags were solutions, we’d be in business. Given that the most multicultural town in Ireland is 20 mins away, I’d say this part of the country has already taken one for the team

  12. jimmy russell

    all opponents to this idea are bigoted racists, as a socialist I immediately identity with these poor disenfranchised people, who have been left behind in terms of welfare, education and a means to support themselves, and I simply cannot understand how these pig ignorant, backward country folk cant see that this is the best thing that could have happened to them. These migrants will integrate easily to the area as they have done in so many towns all over germany (only bigots would bring up articles describing problems over there, it’s fake news anyway), I actually envy the people of roscommon for the cultural enrichment they are about to recieve

    1. Marie

      You don’t know Arabs – they will complain like mad and are not like the Irish who might grin and bear it. That said Syrians are one of the best of the bunch. If in look after them but divert most of the rest to their Arab brothers far richer than us. They will understand each other perfect.

      Our politicians and civil servants need to know that Ireland is close to breaking point. Double standards like refugees n Hotels and Tax payers on Trolleys and our less fortunate on mats on the ground and sent out to pass the day until evening time.

      Problem solving Politicians need to act now or go down in history for being inept failures.

      We must discuss our problems – airing them does not make Ballaghadereen people racist just sensible people anticipating the problems they already have and will only quadruple because of the new additions.

      To say charity begins at home does not make one racist and the points raised here all need to be heard. It is easy to be condescending and oh so enlightened ………… from a distance while someone else except you takes on the burden.

  13. steve knievel

    thats the thing with senators they dont regard themselves as having national constituencies. hence averil power sending calendars to people in the constituency she was going to run in in ge 2016. pure nimbyism by senator hopkins.

  14. Peter Dempsey

    40 bedrooms and 29 apartments in the hotel is more than enough to house 80 Syrians. Don’t see what the issue is

    1. karlj

      Except it won’t be 80.
      More than likely it will be the full 200 hotel capacity and further it will be longer than 2 years

  15. winner

    I’m amazed at the reaction to this story

    First we have a few class
    Making jokes
    About Roscommon

    Ok excellent points there

    Then we have a load Of lads arm wrestling with this niggling thing called conscience and saying oh begoorah and begob shure it’s worse Off they’ll be here Surr shure we haven’t even got enough praties for our own little WANs

    Not one person says well done government for taking in these 80 homeless refugees

    Truly extraordinary

    Hard to know sometimes what
    To whinge about the most
    Is it?

  16. Marie

    Went into a Take Away outside Sligo and while waiting on my food was chatting to the Server. He felt safe in Sligo but he previously worked in Ballaghaderreen and in his opinion did not feel safe there. Told me it was very rough at night and he moved because he did not feel safe anymore.

    So if Ballaghadereen is not safe why are we sending 80 vulnerable families there. He told me gangs from Dublin and Longford would rob Take Aways and people in the street and jump in their cars and be away before they had time to report the matter. Plus all these small towns have very little Garda presence. .

    On top of that we have families who have been made homeless by the Banks so we are not immune to life’s problems in Roscommon.

    1. Happy Molloy

      Ballaghadereen is grand, Ballyhaunis was always where you’d get battered, nothing to do with the immigrant population either

    1. classter

      I agree but (gonna sound patronising) realistically, the only thing a spot like Ballaghadereen has going for it is a sense of community & social cohesion. Some find that cloying or boring but others appreciate it.

      So sure, the govt should use an empty hotel somewhere like this to house refugees but they should also make sure that they do this properly. Keep the locals informed, try make them feel involved, make sure that adequate resources are provided & preparation done to make it as smooth as possible.

      For once, can we try to learn from mistakes made elsewhere rather than making the same mistakes again?!

  17. Otis Blue

    It would be great to think that we’d go about this in the right way. That we could capably accommodate the needs of the refugees over the longer term and reconcile them with those of the local community. There’s no reason why this couldn’t be done. But it won’t.

    As an aside, I had cause to visit Ballaghadereen last year for the first time. Grim doesn’t begin to describe the place.

    1. Hieronymus Tosh

      These places weren’t founded with the sole intention of accommodating your impeccable standards princess

      1. Otis Blue

        Sounds like you might be one of those guys living in Spellmans (as mentioned by Harry Molloy earlier in the thread).

        Sorry it didn’t work out for ya.

  18. Columbo's Missus

    Similar happened in the tiny seaside hamlet of Clonea strand in Waterford last year when a surprise announcement was made that the hotel would be a reception centre for asylum seekers. The place is so small it doesn’t even qualify as a village. There are no community facilities, no playground, no youth clubs, no schools, no translators, no religious centres, no public transport links of any kind and outside of the summer months no shops.

    The kids have a small section of a car park, surrounded by metal barriers to play in. They have nothing to play with so myself and some of my family dropped in some teddies, plastic balls and a few jigsaws to them. They are absolutely lost out there.

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