Converting convents for asylum-seekers
Sir, – Now that the Government is looking to accommodate an increasing numbers of asylum seekers perhaps they should think about the many convents and monasteries that lie empty throughout the country. Virtually every town of any size has one or more of these unoccupied buildings as religious congregations retrench due to declining vocations.
These buildings were designed to accommodate large groups of people and would have the necessary facilities for short term stays. They are often in the centre of towns with convenient access to public transport and other services.
I suspect that many religious congregations find these buildings a financial burden at present as they are difficult to dispose of due to a surplus of what might have been other potential uses such as hotels, guest houses or care homes.
In the long term the country needs permanent State-owned premises to cater for what will be a continuous stream of asylum seekers, instead of filling the coffers of commercial interests.
As a relatively wealthy nation we have to play our part and this might be a better solution than using hotels in remote areas. It would mean a fairer distribution of these people throughout the country. Religious congregations might also be happy to see their former homes cater for those in need of refuse and protection. – Yours, etc,
Tuam, Co Galway.