Ireland must stop ‘shutting down’ when it snows, hotelier says

Thousands of airline passengers accommodated in hotels from Drogheda to Mullingar

The Irish Air Corps captured footage of quiet roads and snow covered stadiums during a flyover the city this weekend. Video: Irish Air Corps

 

Ireland must learn to react better to extreme weather events, instead of simply “shutting down and going home for a few days”, according to the general manager of a central Dublin hotel.

Paul Gallagher of Buswells on Molesworth Street said two groups had cancelled accommodation bookings because they could not travel to, or within, Dublin.

“In other countries they compel businesses to clear footpaths and leave the roads to the city authorities. Could we not do that and keep the city moving?” he said.

While not criticising the Government’s “safety first” approach, he said he had not seen a snowplough in Dublin, where efforts to clear snow could have taken place on Thursday, “even if more was coming”.

“We have to have staff and we had to send a van to collect them. Last night they and I slept in meeting rooms. Is it not possible to put a snowplough on the front of the Luas?”

“In a city like this we should be able to move about. There has to be a better solution than shutting down and going home for a few days,” he said.

Displaced passengers

Mr Gallagher is a past president of the Irish Hotels Federation (IHF), which since Wednesday has housed thousands of displaced passengers for airlines travelling through Dublin.

In an effort organised by IHF member Michael Kearney of Carlton Hotels, which has two hotels at the airport, the federation has sourced rooms from its members as far away as Mullingar, Co Westmeath, and Drogheda, Co Louth.

“It has to be on the motorway so that we can get in and out quickly,” he said.

While the weather crisis might deliver extra bookings for hotels with access to the airport, for most it was a question of cancellations and lost business.

Pat Casey of the Glendalough Hotel in Co Wicklow said 50 per cent of his bookings for the weekend had been cancelled.

Eoin Jacob, deputy general manager of the Seven Oaks Hotel in Carlow, said the hotel was “staying open to help the people who help the public”.

He said recent guests had included gardaí, civil defence personnel, workers with the out-of-hours medical service Caredoc and staff at the local hospital.

In Westport, the IHF's incoming president Michael Lennon, who runs the Westport Woods Hotel, said he had been in Boston two weeks ago, “in snow worse than this”, and that city had kept moving with the airport open.

“Are we really so different?” he asked.