'ENORMOUS STRAIN' | 

Staff ‘afraid’ to enter Kerry direct provision hotel where men were stabbed

Gardaí made a further four arrests last night following the incident on New Year’s Day.

Anne Lucey and Eoghan MoloneyIndependent.ie

Staff at a Kerry hotel, where four men were stabbed, would not enter the building yesterday morning amid fears for their safety.

Gardaí made a further four arrests last night following the incident on New Year’s Day.

Two men previously arrested remain in custody in Killarney and investigations are ongoing into a violent incident in Hotel Killarney, a large hotel turned into a direct provision centre on Park Road, in which a number of people received knife injuries.

Four men were hospitalised with two of those stabbed taken to Cork University Hospital. Two others have been taken to Tralee to University Hospital Kerry.

A number of minor injuries were also attended to at the scene. The two men in custody were arrested at the scene. At one point, five ambulances attended that scene on Sunday night. Gardaí remained throughout the night.

Sections of hotel staff had not entered the building yesterday morning, because they were concerned for their safety, persons familiar with the situation said.

There are growing concerns that the tourist town cannot cope with the concentration of asylum seekers, which is putting “enormous strain” on the town.

“We don’t have the services – health, education, or other services to deal with such numbers. It is putting enormous strain on the town,” a spokesperson for Killarney Asylum Seeker Initiative (KASI), the town’s long-established asylum seeker and refugee initiative, said.

The sudden arrival of 400 more refugees of 13 different nationalities “under one roof” had placed a huge burden on their services, KASI said, adding that its drop-in advice centre is also dealing with 3,000 Ukrainian refugees who have arrived in Killarney since March.

Up to 100 mostly men classified as Ukrainian refugees are in a hostel at the rear of the hotel and this group are in receipt of better financial remuneration, which is adding to feelings of tension and isolation, sources told the Sunday World.

The hotel was at the centre of a controversy in October after local authorities announced plans to remove Ukrainian women and children, who had arrived in Killarney in March, from the hotel and transfer them to Co Mayo to make room for male direct provision applicants.

However, after local protests and action by KASI and Kerry County Council, alternative hotel accommodation was sourced for the Ukrainian refugees and their children in town centre hotels.

Mayor of Killarney Niall Kelleher has called on Children’s Minister Roderic O’Gorman to intervene to review arrangements at Hotel Killarney. Mr Kelleher said the concentration of many different nationalities in the hotel was leading to tensions and that these tensions boiled over as a result.

It’s understood a row broke out on a hotel corridor but the argument escalated and moved into another hotel corridor, with numerous people receiving knife injuries in the process.

Several emergency vehicles attended the scene and gardaí remained at the hotel throughout the night.

None of the injuries sustained in the public order incident are believed to be life-threatening.

Two males aged in their 30s were arrested and brought to Killarney Garda Station where they are currently detained under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act, 1984.

Councillor Niall O’Callaghan, a town centre hotelier and member of Kerry County Council said there is huge concern in Killarney for the whole tourism industry and the town’s reputation.

“It is time for our government TDs, particularly Brendan Griffin and Norma Foley, to step up to the mark on this.

"We in Killarney have spent hard years building our reputation as a leading tourist destination and we are watching it being dismantled,” Cllr O’Callaghan said.


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