A blockade of Rosslare Europort took place on Saturday by locals opposing a second International Protection Accommodation Services (IPAS) centre at the former Great Southern Hotel site in the town.
About 1,000 Rosslare residents, along with politicians, started blockading the port at midday on Saturday to demand answers from Minister for Integration Roderic O’Gorman regarding the proposed plans.
Protests outside the former Great Southern Hotel site started on Thursday night and continued on Friday. They also took place outside Wexford County Council offices.
Freight and car traffic going into and out of the port was affected on Saturday.
Last week the Department of Integration said it now planned to accommodate up to 400 men in the former Great Southern Hotel, which was originally planned as a state-of-the-art nursing home.
A meeting between locals, politicians, Government officials and Mr O’Gorman took place on Wednesday, but a stalemate has ensued over what has been termed “a lack of communication and engagement”.
The Europort deals with more than 30 ferries weekly, with thousands of trucks and cars relying on access to the area.
The Great Southern Hotel has not been used as a 100-bedroom hotel since 2010. Up to 25 apartments were to be created for sheltered housing for the elderly, along with an additional 90 beds.
Rosslare is already is home to another 300 male international protection (IP) applicants.
Independent councillor and deputy chair of Wexford County Council Ger Carthy said the protest would carry on for as long as it took to change the Government’s mind.
“This area has done its bit to help out as out of a population of 2,100, 300 are already IP applicants. We can’t take in another 400. The hotel was supposed to be a nursing home and we want to see that happen,” said Cllr Carthy.
Meanwhile, hundreds marched in heavy wind and rain in Killarney, Co Kerry, on Saturday afternoon in a silent protest led by residents of the Muckross Road area where a hotel is set to host 70 male IP applicants.
Hoteliers, professional people, residents and Polish people living in Killarney were among those marching.
It follows two public meetings that called on the Department of Integration to halt sending numbers of refugees and asylum seekers to the tourist town.
Killarney now has about 3,000 Ukrainian and IP applicants in about 40 per cent of the tourist accommodation of the town.
The Kingscourt Harmony Inn represents the fifth IP centre for the town. Already a number of hotels in the town centre and on the Muckross Road are contracted to house Ukrainian refugees, and are closed to tourists.
Jarveys and hoteliers have warned that the tourist industry is being ‘sacrificed’ .
Council management had also written to IPAS to ask it to delay the latest arrival until services were put in place. However, the department has said it has to avail of all offers of accommodation because of the pressure of numbers arriving.
“This represents a 25 per cent increase in our population in the last 18 months. Our services have surpassed capacity and we cannot accommodate any more. We are here today to say that we have done our fair share in welcoming people seeking refuge. It’s our turn now, to feel safe,” the residents said in a statement.
Meanwhile KASI, the non-governmental agency Killarney asylum seeker initiative dealing with asylum seekers and refugees, has appealed to the community not to “prejudge” the 70 new arrivals.