Republic's justice minister Charlie Flanagan 'deeply concerned' about fire at proposed centre for asylum seekers
Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan has said he is "greatly concerned" about a fire at a proposed centre for asylum seekers.
The Shannon Key West Hotel in Rooskey which had been earmarked as a Direct Provision centre in November, caught fire on Thursday night.
Gardaí and emergency services were called to the scene of the fire at the former hotel in Co Leitrim near the Roscommon border at around 8pm.
"I am deeply concerned at the reports of the fire, which broke out in the Shannon Key West Hotel in Rooskey," Minister Flanagan said.
"I wish to commend the emergency services and An Garda Síochána for their quick response to the incident, which undoubtedly minimised the potential damage to the hotel.
"The hotel had recently contracted with my department to provide accommodation for 80 asylum seekers who have come to our country to seek protection, many of whom have experienced conflict and trauma and are vulnerable.
"The final preparations were being made in the hotel for their arrival.
"Thankfully, there were no residents in situ when the fire broke out.
"A security guard who was on the premises was not injured and managed to raise the alarm.
"The investigation into the cause of the fire must now take place and I do not wish to speculate at this point.
"It is also too early to say when the hotel might be ready to accept residents.
"All of the necessary assessments, certifications and any remedial works required must be carried out before we have a clearer time frame.
"In the interim, my department will continue to meet our obligation to provide accommodation for persons seeking our protection."
Gardaí have said that no one was injured in the incident, and the cause of the blaze is not yet known, the scene has been sealed off pending further investigations.
The property was due to receive its first asylum seekers later this month and has been the subject of a number of Youtube videos, distributed leaflets and emergency community meetings disputing the use of the hotel for Direct Provision purposes.
The fire comes just months after a separate incident in November, when a hotel in Moville, Co Donegal, that was due to house around 100 asylum seekers, was targeted in a suspected arson attack.
Officers investigating the fire have appealed for witnesses to contact them.
Diversions are in place in the area and will remain until after the technical examination has been completed.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Carrick on Shannon garda station on 071 965 0510.