The blockade of Rosslare Europort is underway by locals opposing a second International Protection Accommodation Services centre at the old Great Southern Hotel site in the village.
Scores of Rosslare Harbour residents along with politicians are blockading the port since midday today as they demand answers from Minister for Integration Roderic O'Gorman regarding the proposed plans.
Protests outside the Great Southern hotel site started on Thursday night, continued on Friday and outside Wexford County Council offices.
Then protests have now ramped up with freight and car stopping traffic going into and out of the Europort being affected. Gardai are policing the current protest.
Last week, the Department said they now planned to accommodate up to 400 men in the former Great Southern Hotel which was originally being planned as a state-of-the-art nursing home.
A meeting between locals, politicians, Government officials and Minister for Integration Roderic O’Gorman took place on Wednesday last 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 entrance of the Great Southern Hotel is also to be blocked. The site 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 home to another 300 men as International Protection applicants.
As long as it takes
Independent councillor and deputy chair of Wexford County Council Ger Carthy explained that tonight’s protest will carry on for as long as it takes to change the Government’s mind.
“We will carry out these protests for however long it takes. The Departments of Transport and Integration officials need to start taking to each other on this issue,” said Cllr Carthy.
“There’s been no communication and engagement with local residents up until last (Wednesday) night, which is feeding the mistrust.
"This area has done its bit to help out as out of a population of 2,100, 300 are already International Protection applicants. We can’t take in another 400. The hotel was supposed to be a nursing home, and we want to see that happen.”
Cllr Carthy said he, local residents and other politicians wanted to highlight that the “infrastructure and facilities” in the village are not adequate to cope with the “additional people planned to arrive”.
“This is an issue of fairness and equity. Enough is enough. Locals have done their bit to help already. There is no nursing home in the area, one is badly needed, and those plans should be allowed to continue," he said.
The Department is due to apply for planning permission for a change of use for the site.
Independent TD Verona Murphy has submitted a Section 5 to planning authorities in a bid to ascertain if a change of use proposed for the building will need planning permission.
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