Conflicting online reactions to Rooskey Hotel fire

Suspected arson at Shannon Key West Hotel leads to a lively online debate

Jessica Thompson

Reporter:

Jessica Thompson

Email:

jessica.thompson@longfordleader.ie

Conflicting online reactions to Rooskey Hotel fire

Gardaí outside the Shannon Key West Hotel in Rooskey last week.

Approximately 100 people attended an anti-racism gathering in Rooskey on Sunday after a hotel earmarked for asylum seekers fell victim to a suspected arson attack last Thursday evening.

The rally was organised by Leitrim and Roscommon United Against Racism who condemned the attack and among the participants was a group of people from Ballaghaderreen, Co Roscommon, who have already welcomed Syrian refugees into their community.

Emergency services were called to the scene of the fire at approximately 8pm on Thursday, January 10 last, where Gardaí have said two men gained entry to the hotel through a side window and started the fire in the hotel reception. One man was working inside at the time.

There was no extensive destruction caused by the fire, but there is significant smoke damage to the interior of the 39-bedroom hotel, which was to house approximately 80 asylum seekers in early 2019.

There has been a huge online response to the divisive incident, which has thrown up conflicting opinions from people across the country.

Also read: Rooskey hotel will be opened to asylum seekers in early January Court told

“Maybe they will listen to the locals now. We do not want 80 refugee families in our little village,” read one comment on the Longford Leader Facebook page.

“Our village hasn’t got enough resources for ourselves: we have no local transport; only one doctor practicing only one or two days a week; one shop. Never mind bringing 80 families that are financially strapped and that are not able to speak English or contribute to our society into the community.”

The comment was in response to a Longford Leader article: Suspected arson attack at Rooskey hotel 'a sad day for Ireland of a thousand welcomes'.

“More despicable behaviour being commended as heroics by a worrying number of people. Arson is not a legitimate means of making a point,” said another commenter under the same Facebook post.

“Anyone playing the 'look after our own' first card: ask yourselves, how would the locals feel about 80 homeless people being taken off the streets in Dublin and stuck in a hotel in Rooskey? Is that what you wanted?”

A third commenter agreed that Rooskey was too small to cater for 80 refugees, but condemned the acts of destruction that were resorted to in the village last week.

Also read: Emergency services attend scene of fire at Shannon Key West Hotel in Rooskey

“Rooskey was not the place for these people but setting fire to a hotel was not the answer. These people need to be sent to a place which can cope with them.

“Lest we forget how we as a nation left these shores in huge numbers to seek a better life elsewhere? We all have family or friends who went to the UK or further afield to make a better life for themselves.”

Cathaoirleach of Leitrim County Council Cllr Sean Mc Gowan has issued an appeal to the public to help Gardaí with their investigation into last week's incident.

“I wish to express my deep concern and unhappiness at the arson attack that occurred at the former Shannon Key West Hotel in Rooskey last Thursday night,” he said.

“I absolutely condemn this type of behaviour and appeal to members of the public to assist the Gardaí in any way possible in their investigations of this matter.

“The community in and around Rooskey who are decent law-abiding people, are horrified and shocked by these events and would in no way support such actions.

Also read: Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan: 'Too early to say when Rooskey hotel might be ready to accept residents'

“I wish to express my deep concern and unhappiness at the arson attack that occurred at the former Shannon Key West Hotel in Rooskey last Thursday night,” he said.

“I absolutely condemn this type of behaviour and appeal to members of the public to assist the Gardaí in any way possible in their investigations of this matter.

“The community in and around Rooskey who are decent law-abiding people, are horrified and shocked by these events and would in no way support such actions.

“I would like to pay tribute to the members of the emergency services from Leitrim and Roscommon County Councils whose swift response to the incident prevented injury to any member of the community and also prevented further significant damage to the property.

“It is my hope that this property can be restored to its full potential and will become a valued asset to the wider community once more,” he concluded.

Gardaí are appealing for information about last week's incident. Anyone who can help with the investigation is asked to contact Carrick-on-Shannon Garda Station on 71 9650510.

Read next: Gardaí appeal for witnesses in Rooskey following Shannon Key West Hotel fire