National planning laws changed to aid accommodation of immigrants

As many as 50,000 could be allowed settle in Ireland.

Sligo News File Online.

OireachtasThe Oireachtas has sanctioned substantial changes in the planning laws to facilitate the accommodation of immigrants.

The measures come amid growing public fear about the flood of immigrants expected to arrive in the country.

It is estimated that – including reunification of family members -upwards of 50,000 could be allowed settle here under cover of new provisions and government secrecy surrounding the plans.

Clonlea Strand Hotel
Clonlea Strand Hotel

The Government has confirmed that after a short induction in reception centres, immigrants will have houses offered to them and become entitled to receive full social welfare benefits and other allowances. They will also have full access to the jobs market and statutory support services in Ireland.

In County Waterford, an emergency meeting of residents, business interests and public representatives heard complaints about a centre chosen for the accommodation of immigrants in Dungarvin. The three- star Clonea Hotel is “a unique and privileged position on the South East coastline in one of the most stunning locations in West Waterford.” Overlooking the Blue Flag Clonea Beach, it has, according to the Owners, 57 stylish bedrooms and offers a variety of

Clonea Hotel & Swimming Pool
Clonea Hotel & Swimming Pool

dining options. An 18 hole Gold Coast Golf Course boasting breath-taking views of the Atlantic Ocean, Dungarvan Bay and the stunning Comeragh Mountains is situated close by. Facilities include an indoor leisure centre, swimming pool, sauna, jacuzzi, turkish bath, gym, ten pin bowling alley and a children’s soft play area – the Play Loft.

The convened emergency meeting, organisers stressed, was not anti-refugee. At issue, it was pointed out, was the suitability of the Clonea Hotel as a place for a reception and orientation centre for refugees. The Government proposes to locate upwards of 100 immigrants in a reception centre in the hotel. Speakers expressed fears about the knock-on impact this would have on the commercial life of the area, where people regard the hotel as a primary attraction in the local tourism industry. Some residents felt that amenities in the area would suffer and tourist numbers would dwindle.

Clonea Beach
Clonea Beach

It is said that a contract has been signed between management of the Clonlea and the Reception and Integration Agency which deals with the provision of accommodation for asylum seekers.

The Hazel Hotel in Monasterevin had also been commissioned to be the “orientation” centre to accommodate 520 immigrants.

Article 4 of the new Department of the Environment planning measures, designed to assist “in implementing the Government’s Irish Refugee Protection Programme,” inserts four new classes of exempted development into the Planning and Development Regulations 2001 to 2015, which has the effect that the changes in use specified in the new classes are exempted from having to obtain planning permission. The new classes of exempted development are:

• Class 14(g): change of use of a premises from a hotel to a hostel (other than a hostel where care is provided);

• Class 14(h): Change of use of various forms of premises providing residential or overnight accommodation to specific use as accommodation for refugees and asylum seekers, as defined in legislation. This class of exempted development will assist in implementing the Government’s Irish Refugee Protection Programme (IRPP), which was established by the Government on 10 September 2015 in response to the migration crisis in central and southern Europe;

• Class 14(i): Change of use of various forms of premises providing overnight accommodation to use as an emergency reception and orientation centre (EROC) for refugees and asylum seekers. A network of emergency reception and orientation centres will be established by the Department of Justice and Equality for the initial reception of persons arriving in Ireland under the Irish Refugee Protection Programme;

• Class 14(j): Return of premises, the use of which changed under an exemption in Class 14(h) or 14(i), to their permitted use immediately prior to that change of use. It is a condition of this class that the exemption from planning permission will apply for a period of 3 years only from the date of the commencement of the change of use exempted under Class 14(h) or (i).

Article 3 of these Regulations amends the definitions of “business premises” and “excluded premises” in the Principal Regulations by removing the distinction in them between a hotel and a hostel.
In accordance with section 16(3) of the Interpretation Act 2005, these Regulations come into operation at the end of the day before the day on which the Regulations are made.

Some 95% of all applications for asylum in Ireland this year were reportedly rejected as not being genuine. The top 5 nationalities seeking asylum were Pakistan, Bangladesh, Albania, Nigeria and Malawi, countries not at war.The Government is understood to have been heavily lobbied by sectors of industry to allow more immigrants access to the state to take up jobs here.

Currently, thousands of Irish parents and children are walking the streets in the forlorn hope of finding a home. The number of homeless families is also growing with little prospect of housing coming on stream for them any time soon.

Accommodation Government erecting for Irish Families
Accommodation Government erecting for Irish Families