Republic of Ireland news

Huge response to toy appeal for asylum seekers after attack on Co Donegal hotel

Toys for the asylum seekers were donated at centres all over Inishowen and Derry
Seamus McKinney

A DONEGAL man says he Is overwhelmed by the response to a toy appeal for asylum seekers launched after a hotel due to house refugees was targeted by arsonists.

Dean McGeoghan (22) said he was determined to show the true spirit of his native Moville in Inishowen when the town hit the headlines after last month’s attack.

Caiseal Mara hotel was targeted following an announcement that it was to be used to house up to 100 asylum seekers under a government scheme.

Moville was one of several towns across the Republic earmarked as centres for refugees in the coming weeks.

Extensive damage was caused to the hotel, which is currently being refurbished in preparation for a new arrival date of the asylum seekers early in the new year.

Following the arson attack, Moville became the focus of further bad publicity when a security guard assigned to the hotel was attacked as he left work.

Mr McGeoghan said: “Moville got a bad name and that’s not what Moville is like.

“When the announcement [about the arrival of refugees] was first made, there was some negative feedback on social media and I got into a few rows on social media with people over it. Then when the arson happened, I decided I had to do something.”

In the week before Christmas, Mr McGeoghan set up a social media appeal for toys for any children who might arrive, with collection points in Moville, Carndonagh, Buncrana and at Derry’s Evolve Martial Arts where he trains.

“I was shocked with the response. People are donating all sorts of things. I asked for second-hand toys but people are going out and buying brand new toys for the appeal and they’re donating other things too, like blankets,” he said.

Mr McGeoghan’s appeal was just one of many offers of help made through the Fáilte Inishowen group established to welcome the asylum seekers when they arrive.

Offers have included everything from yoga classes to equine therapy sessions and language and self-help classes as well as offers of assistance from the GAA.

Mr McGeoghan said: “I’m looking forward to meeting them when they arrive and to getting to know them. There are all sorts of nationalities in Moville and we get on; the ones who did the arson attack don’t represent us.”


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