A controversial accommodation center in Cahersiveen, West Kerry, is to house Ukrainian refugees, local officials have been told.
The Skellig Star Hotel, 60km from Killarney, was at the center of controversy in March 2020 when it suddenly opened as a direct supply center and over 100 people seeking asylum were transferred from other direct supply centers in Dublin at the height of the covid19 Pandemic.
There was a virus outbreak soon after they arrived. After several protests involving both residents and locals, it was closed as a direct supply center in September and residents were relocated.
Suggestions that it would reopen as a center were rejected last year by the Ministry of Justice, which was then the main accommodation agency for asylum seekers.
Fianna Fáil councilor Norma Moriarty said she had received confirmation from Education Minister Norma Foley that the center would be used for Ukrainian refugees after inquiring about increased activity around the hotel this weekend.
The 56-bed hotel and 30 apartments, now complete, would be suitable “if lessons are learned”, said Cllr Moriarty.
However, Covid-19 was still a concern and the community of Cahersiveen would like to be reassured that there would be no overcrowding, she added.
The community had no real details yet, except that the first people were arriving on Tuesday.
There would be plenty of room in primary and secondary schools in Cahersiveen and children would be warmly welcomed as the schools need extra pupils, Ms Moriarty said.
“The only area under pressure will be health,” she added.
Cahersiveen and the wider region have only three GPs, and they are exhausted after the demands of Covid-19. “We will need additional health resources,” the adviser said.
Richie O’Connell, chairman of the Cahersiveen Chamber Alliance, representing businesses in the town of Iveragh, said “there is great support for Ukraine in this town and people want to help”.
The Killarney Valley Hotel in Fossa outside Killarney, along with sister property 3Lakes Hostel in Killarney town, are also to become centers for Ukrainian refugees, closing to guests after the New Year’s Eve weekend. Patrick, he emerged.
A third hotel, elsewhere in the county, is also said to be finalizing a contract which, in the case of the Killarney premises, is for six months with the possibility of an extension.