Department in talks with Middleton Park owners

The population of Castletown Geoghegan could double if plans to accommodate scores of international protection applicants (IPAs) at Middleton Park proceed.

In a statement released to the Westmeath Examiner this week, the Castletown Geoghegan Village Steering Group said the community is “shocked and outraged” to learn that such a large number of IPAs could soon be accommodated at Middleton Park.

Minister of State Peter Burke confirmed this week that the Department of Children and Integration is in discussions with the owner of Middleton Park about accommodating international protection applicants at the former wedding venue. In correspondence with the group, Minister Burke said: “I have put the concerns of residents to the Department of Children who have advised that negotiations are ongoing with the owners of Middleton Park, Castletown Geoghegan and that there is the potential to accommodate up to 244 International Protection Applicants there.”

However, according to a well placed source, the figure provided by the department may be a “mistake” and the number that could be accommodated at Middleton Park could be around 100 fewer.

The Castletown Geoghegan steering group says that the infrastructure is not in place to cater for such large numbers in a village of this size.

“According to the 2016 census, there are 141 residents living in Castletown Geoghegan, the proposed numbers are drastically disproportionate to the current population of this village, increasing it to double overnight,” the group said in a statement released to the Westmeath Examiner yesterday.

The group said that it is “ failing to see the sense in proposing these numbers to the village”, a village where the local medical centre opens on limited hours, that has no library, poor water infrastructure and no public paths or public lights from Middleton Park to the village.