Drogheda councillors call for ‘urgent’ meeting with Minister amid plans to house house asylum seekers in hotel

Gardaí not planning security operation at hotel despite concerns it may be targeted by anti-immigration activists

All of Drogheda’s elected councillors have called for a meeting with the Minister for Integration Roderic O’Gorman over plans to covert the biggest hotel in the town into an asylum centre.

The councillors said they were requesting the meeting with “extreme urgency” as the D Hotel is due to be converted to take up to 500 refugees from March 5th and is closed to guests.

“A part of this discussion will need to be real and tangible State provided financial packages for the town to counter the damage that is going to be done by the Minister in making this decision,” they said.

The councillors stated that from their perspective “the total lack of communication from the Minister and his Department with any official or elected representative of Louth County Council is unacceptable and has caused a situation to arise where Drogheda will suffer financially”.


The 113 bedroom D Hotel is the biggest in the town and the councillors believe there will be a net loss to the town of €5.4 million per year from the absence of visitors to the town.

In a joint statement they said the removal of the D Hotel as a place to stay was to the “great detriment of our efforts to develop tourism in the county as part of the Boyne Valley and Fáilte Ireland heritage destination towns initiative”.

They stressed that the statement was being issued on a cross-party and non-party basis and they were all dissatisfied by the “poor policy implementation of the Minister”.

Earlier on Thursday

Labour TD in Co Louth Ged Nash told The Irish Times that he made two proposals during a meeting with Mr O’Gorman on Tuesday night – firstly that the hotel be given a “dual use” function – that it would accommodate International Protection applicants but that it would also retain its current use as an operating hotel.

If there was a resulting shortfall in the capacity to accommodate the 500 IP applicants intended for the site, he asked that the Minister and the Department work with local representatives to identify other buildings, including vacant buildings, in the area that could accommodate the asylum seekers who couldn’t be housed in the hotel.

Mr Nash said that his view was that there was a “moral, ethical and legal obligation” to accept more International Protection applicants and that local representatives had to accept that. He said his concerns were “only and ever exclusively about the hotel and the availability of beds for servicing the burgeoning tourism needs” of the area.

He said the current plan would in effect lead to the hotel being “decommissioned”. Sinn Féin TD for Louth Ruairi O’Murchu said that the plan had been presented as a “fait accompli” and criticised wider Government policy on immigration, which he said was “chaotic”.

According to a document given to local TDs, 500 beds across 113 rooms in the hotel will be made available for families of international protection applicants. The property will be operated by a company called Fairkeep Ltd with staff on site, including a manager and security staff. The management company “has extensive experience in the provision of accommodation centres of [Ukrainians]”, according to the document.

Fairkeep Ltd is owned by the McDermott Hospitality Group, headed by Richard McDermott, who purchased the hotel for €11 million in October last year.

Mr McDermott was represented on the LMFM Michael Reade radio show on Thursday morning by public relations executive Paul Allen.

Mr Reade suggested to him that the going rate per night for refugees is €70 equating to €25.48 million over the two years of the contract. Mr Allen said the D Hotel is a business and this was a business decision on the part of Mr McDermott.

He said the money that the owners will make will be reinvested in its “tired” interior. He also said the 70 jobs in the hotel will be retained.

Those who had already booked into the hotel will either be offered a refund or be accommodated elsewhere.

Meanwhile, gardaí have said they are not planning any security operation around the hotel, despite concerns it may be targeted by far right and anti-immigration activists.

Gardaí believe its location in the centre of the town means it is unlikely to come under attack by arsonists.

The building is part of Scotchhall shopping centre and the area is well covered by CCTV. From a security point of view, this distinguishes it from many of the proposed asylum seeker accommodation centres which have been subject to arson attacks in recent years, gardaí say.

Since 2018 there have been 23 arson attacks of locations rumoured, often falsely, to be earmarked for refugees and asylum seekers.

Gardaí confirmed it has been made aware of plans to convert the Drogheda hotel in to temporary asylum seeker accommodation but said there will be no dedicated security operation.

“There are 190 IPAS centres around the country. We can’t guard all of them,” said a source.

Meanwhile, anti-immigration activists have been attempting to gather support for protests outside the hotel on Saturday and Sunday. There have also been threats against the hotel and its proposed residents on far-right social media channels.

“It’s going to burn – patriots are on it,” one wrote. “Shame if the petrol fairies visited it,” wrote another man associated with the National Party.

Another person promised “bullets” for the residents.

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Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times

Conor Gallagher

Conor Gallagher

Conor Gallagher is Crime and Security Correspondent of The Irish Times

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times