Protesters prevent delivery of modular homes to a site in Co Westmeath

Trucks carrying 18 modular homes held up on main road through the village of Coole

A convoy of trucks carrying 18 modular housing units was blocked from entering a site in Coole, Co Westmeath on Friday following reports they were to be used to house asylum seekers.

The protest began at 4am on Friday after locals, who had received a tip-off that the units were arriving, parked cars in front of the site where they were to be installed.

Gardaí closed the road soon after the blockade began and put diversions in place while patrol cars were stationed at each entrance to the village.

The convoy of more than 20 vehicles, which also contained cranes, was forced to park along the R395 – the village’s main street.


The site where the units were to be installed is adjacent to Coole Court apartments, where about 100 asylum seekers are currently being accommodated, and which was the subject of an enforcement order by Westmeath County Council last month.

The protest was orchestrated by a local group called Coole Concerns whose chairman Keith Thompson said the village has “absorbed enough” migrants.

”We have already have 100 in here and, judging by the size of these modular homes, it looks like they’d fit another 180 and we can’t accommodate that,” he said. ”Our population is around 200 and if we accept any more we’ll be a minority here in our own village.

”We’ve already integrated the asylum seekers we have, they’re going to local schools, but there aren’t enough services here for more people; there are not enough shops, bus services or access to GPs.”

Minister for Enterprise Peter Burke arrived on the scene at 1pm after holding talks with Westmeath County Council. Mr Burke, a local Fine Gael TD, said the Government had no involvement in installing modular homes at Coole for asylum seekers.

”The Government is in no way facilitating this and there is no contract for international protection applicants in the area,” he said. ”Westmeath County Council has issued an enforcement order to the developer in relation to the work that has been in progress here over the last few weeks.”

Mr Burke said it was “inappropriate” how the community in Coole was treated. ”We already have 100 international protection applicants here, 100 vulnerable human beings,” he said. ”This is a small village and it is under extreme pressure, we have to be honest with that, and it is doing more than its part in terms of accommodating international protection applicants.”

The convoy of vehicles left Coole at 2.10pm

A statement from the Department of Integration reiterated there was no Government involvement in the plan.”The department did receive an offer for additional capacity at the site through the tender process. This offer has been rejected, as it did not comply with planning regulations,” they said. ”The provider has already been advised that this offer was refused. Only the accommodation currently in use at this site is contracted to the department and no additional capacity is planned at this site.”

Westmeath County Council said in a statement that it had “initiated enforcement proceedings by way of warning letters” concerning works at the site in Coole that include “the construction of concrete support pads” and “the importation of gravel on-site”.

The council also said it plans to carry out another site inspection to see if further works have taken place there since enforcement proceedings were issued on April 29th.

The developer of Coole Court and the site has been contacted for comment.