Northern Ireland news

Major Tory donor buys arson-hit Co Donegal hotel

The damage to the Caiseal Mara Hotel in Moville, Co. Donegal after an arson attack in November 2018
Seamus McKinney

ONE of the Conservative Party's biggest donors has bought a Co Donegal hotel which was badly damaged in an arson attack after it was earmarked as a home for asylum seekers.

The vacant Caiseal Mara hotel is the latest property to be purchased in Moville by billionaire British theatre producer John Gore.

A Tony, Olivier and New York Emmy award-winner, Mr Gore was recently listed as one of the richest men in the UK with an estimated £1.5bn fortune.

Educated at Harrow public school, the Englishman is a major supporter of the Tory party.

He donated £1.6m in 2018, making him the largest donor to the party that year, and £1.5m in the run-up to last month's general election.

It is believed he has contributed more than £4m to the Conservatives since 2017.

Read More: Arsonists damage hotel to be used to house asylum seekers

In an interview last year, Mr Gore said: “I have chosen to stick my head into the mad world of politics when it is at its maddest.”

Theatre producer John Gore has bought the Caiseal Mara hotel in Moville

The Caiseal Mara hotel is the latest addition to his Co Donegal portfolio of properties.

Mr Gore is also understood to be involved in the recently opened Halyon Club entertainment centre, also in Moville, along with Derry-born singer Sarah McGuinness.

Once described as “the biggest Brit in theatre you’ve never heard of”, Mr Gore has enjoyed huge success on both sides of the Atlantic with a string of hits including Thunderbirds FAB and Star Trek – the Lost Voyage of the Enterprise.

The Caiseal Mara, originally owned by the Keaveney family, was once one of the most popular hotels in Inishowen.

It was later sold, changing its name to McNamara’s and eventually to Caiseal Mara.

With 48 bedrooms, two bars and a restaurant, the hotel fell into decline and was sold at auction in 2016 for €175,000.

In 2018, the hotel was earmarked by the Republic’s Department of Justice as a “direct provision” accommodation centre for asylum seekers.

Up to 100 people from the Congo, Pakistan, Angola and Eastern Europe were expected to take up residence in Moville.

However, the move was met with opposition from some people who claimed it would place a burden on the town’s resources.

In November 2018 the hotel was extensively damaged in an arson attack, while a security guard employed to watch over the damaged building was also attacked a month later.

Plans to bring refugees to the Caiseal Mara were dropped last year and the hotel has remained vacant since the arson attack.

It is understood Mr Gore hopes to renovate the hotel.

Moville estate agent Leo McCauley confirmed to The Irish News yesterday that the hotel had been sold.

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