Amid a huge immigration surge, a shortfall of 250,000 homes and soaring rents, the Irish Government has sent in riot police to Tipperary where locals are protesting the closure of their last hotel to accommodate asylum seekers. The Telegraph has more.
Riot police standing guard outside the Racket Hall hotel in rural Tipperary are tetchy. The 40-room guest house in one of Ireland’s oldest market towns remains intact but recent history suggests that it could soon be reduced to a smouldering wreck.
Local lorry driver Justin Phelan has no intention of setting the building alight but his message to the 160 asylum seekers destined for his hometown is clear: “Roscrea is full”.
“The services are on the ground here in this town,” Mr. Phelan, 34, told the Telegraph. “Not just in this town – all across the country they’re on the ground. There’s God knows how many people on trolleys today in Limerick hospital.
“We have around five GPs in this town. You call any of them this minute and he’ll say, ‘I don’t have space, I’m full up.’ There’s 33 children in my daughter’s class. Just imagine adding two more, with language difficulties. What effect is that going to have on the rest of the children already in the class?”
Mr. Phelan is one many holding vigil outside the hotel in what has become a snapshot of unrest across rural Ireland at the Government’s perceived clumsy handling of a surge in migration.
Protests have been rising across the country at resettlement programmes as Ireland’s housing system creaks, leading in some extreme cases to public buildings being torched.
Huddled around one of the open fires at the Roscrea hotel entrance, Mr. Phelan said he has “been here every day” since last Thursday, when the Irish Government gave local politicians 24-hours notice that the hotel was being closed down to the public to house asylum seekers.
Weddings and parties scheduled to take place in the town’s only hotel have been cancelled after the owners reached an agreement with the Government.
After some demonstrators tried on Monday to block a bus carrying the first 17 arrivals, mainly women and children, from entering the car park, violent scuffles with the gardaí, members of the Irish police force, broke out.
Immigration to Ireland rose by 32% to more than 140,000 in the year ending April 2023. Of these arrivals, more than 13,000 were asylum seekers. And since the Russian invasion, nearly 100,000 Ukrainians have arrived in Ireland.
The immigration influx – the largest since 2007 – comes amid a shortfall of 250,000 homes in Ireland and astronomical rent prices.
The Irish Government recently admitted that there is not enough room to house new arrivals, slashing the monetary allowance for Ukrainians by four fifths and offering new asylum seekers tents to sleep in.