I’ve just returned from a few days in Ireland visiting family in my home town of Rosslare Harbour in Wexford.
One of the hotels that has lain empty for years had been bought by a developer and planning permission was granted for a care home. This was welcomed by the local residents as a much needed facility.
Recently however the Irish Government have decided that the hotel will in fact be used as a mass processing centre for immigrants. The developer clearly sold his soul as we’ve seen happen so many times before.
The hotel is now being renovated and will have approximately 100 rooms which will house 4 men in each room. With the population of the village standing at around 2200 this is a disaster waiting to happen.
The villagers are understandably very concerned and they are now staging round the clock protests manning the three entrances at all times in a bid to stop supplies getting to the hotel. I did a two hour shift on the Saturday night and we were provided with hot food and lots of firewood to keep us warm. It has echoes of the Stradey Park protest and the locals are determined not to back down.
In addition to manning the entrances they are also staging weekly marches in and out of the port. It’s a busy shipping port with ferries from Spain, France and Wales and they want the ferry companies (who are currently remaining neutral) to get on side and lobby the government to stop the plans going ahead.
I was lucky enough to be part of the march today and witness the total chaos and gridlock that was caused. The traffic coming in on the ferries was unable to leave and the traffic trying to get into the port was then unable to board. This caused widespread delays and after a weekend of adverse weather which caused ferry cancellations this just added to their woes.
Local farmers turned out in their tractors to hold up the traffic and the villagers walked slowly in front of the traffic for 6 hours. Conditions were difficult with wind and heavy showers but still they marched on.
The event was well organised and supported and the community spirit is strong.
The media were nowhere to be seen but that’s no surprise to any of us is it?