The Co Donegal hotel owner whose premises was to be used as a direct provision centre had suffered several threats before it was firebombed last weekend, it has emerged.
The owner of the Caiseal Mara Hotel in Moville was injured and considerable damage was caused to the building in an arson attack early on Sunday morning.
More than 100 asylum seekers are due to arrive in the seaside town in the coming weeks to live at the hotel.
Local Sinn Féin Senator Padraig Mac Lochlainn said the owner of the hotel received a number of threatening phonecalls in recent weeks over the plans.
“I am aware of the threats and I understand that the gardaí are also aware of them and that they are being investigated. I understand the threats were made by phone and it is believed that the calls were made by local people,” he said.
“You are always going to get a few idiots in any town but the fact that there were previous threats is now evidence that this was not just a random attack.”
However, he claimed the overall situation was handled very badly by the Department of Justice and that people had legitimate concerns over the arrival of the asylum seekers.
“While many people in Moville are concerned about the absence of any consultation or preparation for the planned Direct Provision Centre at the hotel that will house around 100 asylum seekers, their concerns are not racist or indeed, unreasonable,” he said.
"The Department of Justice and the Reception and Integration Agency have treated the community with contempt and disrespect and lessons must be learned from all of this".
“However the vast, vast majority of people in Moville and Donegal reject racism or intimidation. And they reject the person or persons responsible for this shameful arson attack that could have led to the death of the family that own the hotel and they reject those persons who have issued threats against the family.”
The Senator called on anybody with information on the attack to contact the Garda.