There is shock in Ballaghaderreen this evening following the news that the former Abbeyfield Hotel will not be re-opening as Hotel but will instead be transformed into an Emergency Reception and Orientation Centre (EROC) for Syrian Refugees.
Following the sale of the Abbeyfield Hotel in 2015 there were high hopes among business and civic leaders in the area the reopening of the facility – which featured a swimming pool, gym, sauna, Jacuzzi, Beauty Salon and almost 40 bedrooms – would bring a much needed jobs boost to the town.
The Department of Justice and Equality, on behalf of the Irish Refugee Protection Programme, has now contracted the new owners of the Hotel, Cork based Combin Properties / Remcoll Capital, to establish the “EROC”. The group are also believed to be the owners of a large number of properties in a housing estate in the town.
The Hotel will be used for two years in order to temporarily accommodate relocated asylum seekers. Up to 80 Syrian Refugees who are currently living in Greece could be accommodated there within a matter of weeks.
The awarding of the contract by the Department is a culmination of a nationwide “expression of interest” in October 2015 and assessments conducted in late 2015/early 2016 – the same time period where locals thought the Hotel was being readied for re-opening.
Asylum seekers who are accommodated in an Emergency Reception and Orientation Centre are typically there for a period of up to 6 months. During that time they will receive refugee or some other form of immigration status and will subsequently be resettled in other parts of Ireland. During their temporary stay in the EROC the Irish Refugee Protection Programme will link them in with a range of services including English language training.
Officials from the Department of Justice and Equality and Irish Refugee Protection Programme are set to meet with Roscommon County Council tomorrow to set out the objectives of the Government programme and to address any local concerns.