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Dromahair back in the spotlight

The former Abbey Manor Hotel in Dromahair has been given permission to house international protection applicants after the High Court this week rejected a bid by Leitrim County Council to block the plan, saying work could go ahead.
Last November, a large crowd gathered outside the former hotel building in Dromahair, where work was being undertaken to prepare for the arrival of 155 applicants for international protection, including 31 single men.
Leitrim County Council brought High Court proceedings against Dromaprop Limited in February 2024, alleging that the company intended to change the use of the Abbey Manor Hotel from “a specific form of tourist accommodation” to temporary use for asylum seekers and had carried out unauthorized work in preparation for the change.
Speaking to the Leitrim Observer following the High Court ruling, local Labor candidate Bernie Linnane welcomed the news.
“I am pleased that there is now clarity about the legal situation; that the hotel can now continue to welcome applicants for international protection. There is so much confusion, rumors, assumptions, fear mongering and all kinds of things happening in the village. I think people should at least be happy if they draw a line below that.
However, Cllr Felim Gurn had a different view. He said there is already a lack of accommodation. “I deal with four or five Irish people every day who cannot get housing and the houses they live in are for sale.”

Leitrim County Council said in a brief statement to the Leitrim Observer that it is currently investigating the outcome of the court’s ruling and has no further comment at this time.
Local independent councilor Felim Gurn reacted scathingly to the news.
“The government has supported the decision to sideline council staff and councilors working on site.
“I am dismayed that this is continuing at a time when the HSE is in crisis and people are waiting up to two years for procedures and having to travel to Northern Ireland to complete procedures.
“It adds more people to a system that is completely unable to accommodate what is happening on the ground.
“Adding 220 people to a community where resources are scarce and schools, primary care centers and people waiting a long time for a doctor’s appointment will add fuel to the fire.
“The Government has no control over the amount of emigrants entering Ireland and is unable to deal with the 13,000 homeless people who are sleeping on the streets and have been since this Government was formed. Nothing has been done to solve that problem,” he said.
He continued: “At a time when 80% of arrivals are from Northern Ireland, our Garda stations along the border should certainly be manned and checkpoints set up. There are checkpoints for speeding and drink driving, so they certainly need to try to get on top of people crossing the border from England into the south of Ireland.”
He said there is already a lack of accommodation.
“I deal with four or five Irish people every day who cannot get housing and the houses they live in are for sale.”
However, Labour’s Bernie Linnane commented: “Now our community can continue to work together to ensure the whole situation works out as best as possible for all of us, including our new neighbours.
Asked if she knew how many people would come to the hotel, Ms Linnane said that “the implication made in the original arrangement last year was for 155 people; 124 in families and 31 men, so I don’t know if there’s any change in that and I’m not privy to that information, but it looks like that’s what we’re looking at.”
There have been a number of arson attacks on properties linked to asylum seekers in recent years and The Observer asked Ms Linnane if she would be concerned about a similar incident taking place in the village.
“Arson is a word I hate the sound of and I really hope no one in Dromahair is willing to go to that kind of trouble. I think we are a better community than that.
“There are decent people in Dromahair who want to do the right thing and I’m pretty sure none of them would stoop to that level.”
When asked how to ease tensions and concerns for both locals and incoming asylum seekers, she said. “The only way we can ever allay concerns about new people is to talk to them, engage with them, get to know them and reach out to them; I think this is what a community can do to welcome people.
“When we talk to people, the fears and disagreements often disappear, because deep down we all want the same things; we all want a safe place to live,” she concluded.

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