Sixty asylum seekers transferred to Longford with 20 more set to follow

Liam Cosgrove


Liam Cosgrove

Longford County Council Cathaoirleach, Cllr Gerry Warnock.
Sixty asylum seekers are already living in the newly re-opened Richmond Court Hostel in Longford town, the Leader has learned.

Sixty asylum seekers are already living in the newly re-opened Richmond Court Hostel in Longford town, the Leader has learned.

Twenty more are set to arrive into the county town over the coming weeks as part of efforts to deal with the migration crisis in the southern Mediterranean.

Details of the figures are contained in a lengthy letter sent by Department of Justice officials to Longford County Council this week.

The letter, which has been obtained by the Leader, was issued on foot of a special meeting of the Council which is due to take place later today (Monday).

Cathaoirleach of Longford County Council, Cllr Gerry Warnock called for the special meeting after it emerged the hostel was to re-open in order to house disaffected migrants.

As part of that meeting, Cllr Warnock had sought the attendance of Department of Justice officials in order to explain the decision.

In the corresponding letter sent to Longford County Council in recent days however, it was deemed “inappropriate” to send a Department official to Monday’s meeting.

A senior representative from the the Justice Department’s Reception and Integration Agency instead insisted there was nothing untoward about the decision to re-open the hostel.

It was also revealed a Dublin based firm, Mint Horizon Ltd would be in charge of the centre after a two and a half year contract was signed on July 22 last.

“I think it’s worth pointing out that Longford has had a strong tradition of welcoming asylum seekers,” RIA official, Noel Dowling wrote.

“I hope this tradition will continue. There are already 60 male asylum seekers there (in Richmond Court) and the remaining 20 will arrive in the coming weeks.”

Confirmation of the news and the decision of Justice officials to opt against attending this afternoon’s special council meeting has nonetheless attracted stinging criticism from Cllr Warnock.

He said serious question marks over the affair still remained as he accused the Government of “ramroading” the decision over the line without consulting local politicians first.

“I am very, very disappointed at the attitude the Department is taking, firstly at them not sending a representative down to justify the decision and secondly by the response (letter) which I find very disingenous.

“It doesn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know and failed to address any of the points which was asked.”

Continuing his tirade, Cllr Warnock warned neither he nor his fellow 17 elected county council members were prepared to accept the Department’s response lying down.

“It just seems to be very typical of the current administration to ramroad stuff through while by-passing the people who have to live with these decisions,” he stormed.