Drogheda hotel may remain in partial commercial use while housing asylum seekers, says Varadkar

Local representatives fear economic impact on Louth town from losing premises and criticise lack of consultation

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has signalled a partial reversal of a decision to house 500 asylum seekers in the D Hotel in Drogheda, Co Louth, next month.

Part of the hotel may now remain in use as a commercial premises, he said, while other hotels in the town currently used for accommodating Ukrainian refugees may also be brought back into use.

Local representatives have raised concerns the conversion of the hotel into asylum seeker accommodation will have a severe economic impact on the town.

The 113-bedroom hotel is the biggest in the town and the councillors believe there will be a net loss to Drogheda of €5.4 million per year from the absence of visitors. They have also complained of a lack on consultation ahead of the decision by the Department of Integration.


Speaking at the Munich Security Conference in Germany on Saturday, Mr Varadkar said he understands the concerns of local people “that losing the major hotel in their town would be a major set back in terms of what has been achieved in the town in recent years.”

He said he and Minister for Integration Roderic O’Gorman are exploring solutions, including the possibility that some of the hotel will remain in use for paying guests while the rest is used for asylum seekers.

“We understand what the councillors and TDs in Drogheda are saying; that migrants and international protection applicants are welcome in their town but the loss of their only major functioning hotel would be such a setback given what has been achieved for the town in recent years.

“So we’re exploring alternatives which might, for example, mean the hotel being used partially for international protection but still being able to operate. There are also a number of other hotels in the town that are currently being used for Ukrainians but have the potential to be put back into use.”

Protests organised by anti-immigration activists are scheduled to take place in the town this weekend and a large garda operation has been put in place.

Mr Varadkar said local representatives have behaved “very responsibly” on the issue but that he is worried about extremists stirring up anger in the community.

“Migration is a very sensitive issue which brings out the best in some people. These are people who take refugees into their homes and welcome them into their schools and clubs and communities.

“It also brings out the worst in some people; hatred and anger and racism. And I’m very conscious of that.”

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Conor Gallagher

Conor Gallagher

Conor Gallagher is Crime and Security Correspondent of The Irish Times