Protest ends outside Co Tipperary hotel used to house asylum seeker families

‘General relief’ at end of ten-week-long protest at Racket Hall Hotel in Roscrea, says councillor

A long-running protest at a hotel in Roscrea, Co Tipperary, being used to house asylum seekers has ended after 10 weeks.

In January, demonstrators began protesting at Racket Hall Hotel, the only operating hotel in the town, after the Department of Integration said 40 rooms would be repurposed to accommodate asylum seekers.

Protesters had maintained a presence at the hotel entrance since the January announcement.

Noel Coonan, a Fine Gael councillor based in Roscrea, said that local people felt a “general relief” at the conclusion of the rolling protest.


“Nobody has gained out of what happened,” Mr Coonan said, speaking to The Irish Times on Monday.

Legitimate concerns prompted the initial protests back in January, Mr Coonan said, including the loss of the hotel’s accommodation and facilities.

He said that many people in Roscrea were upset the protest at Racket Hall happened in the first place – a development that might have been avoided “if there had been proper consultation” between locals and the Department of Integration before the housing of asylum seekers at the hotel.

The “decent people” of Roscrea are welcoming, he said, and have “played their part” in the accommodation of asylum seekers.

The Department of Integration was contacted for comment.

Following the department’s announcement in January, protesters initially attempted to block asylum seekers entering Racket Hall Hotel.

After several days of protest, a scuffle between gardaí and demonstrators broke out at the hotel as asylum seekers – women and young children – were escorted on to the premises. One man was arrested under public order legislation during the incident.

In the weeks that followed, protesters maintained a presence at the hotel, calling for the department to end the housing of asylum seekers at the hotel.

Maria Phelan, a Racket Hall demonstrator, wrote on her personal Facebook page on Saturday that the long-running protest had been stood down.

“To everyone who stood shoulder to shoulder for the greater good of our town, stand tall because we done ourselves, our town and our country proud,” she wrote.

“The closure of our hotel was and still is a huge disappointment for our town, but our protest was much bigger than that.”

Fiachra Gallagher

Fiachra Gallagher

Fiachra Gallagher is an Irish Times journalist