A Westmeath hotel is set to become an accommodation centre for 81 asylum seekers at the end of the month.
The Temple Lodge and Spa in Horseleap has been contracted by the Reception and Integration Agency (RAI) to house 81 asylum seekers from April 30.
In a letter seen by the Westmeath Examiner, the RAI said that its contract with Temple Lodge is initially for one year, after which it will be reviewed.
“The centre will provide essential accommodation and shelter to asylum seekers. It is anticipated that it will also generate employment and business opportunities in the locality,” the RAI said.
It is believed that the 81 people scheduled to move into Temple Lodge are not from Syria. The majority of people who seek asylum in Ireland come from Asia, sub-Saharan Africa and Eastern Europe.
The RAI says that given Temple Lodge's location, it will be organising “regular transport to and from local main population centres to meet the day to day needs of the residents”.
It also said that any school transport services for children will be organised by the Department of Education.
Speaking to the Westmeath Examiner, former Moate councillor Tom Allen said that it was a “very strange” decision to house asylum seekers in Temple Lodge as “it's in the middle of nowhere”. He also noted that local schools are “choc-a-block”
“I can't figure it out for the life of me. Our schools, hospitals and our housing, everything is at their limits. I know these people have to be looked after but I don't know why they chose here.”
Mr Allen suggested that Columb Barracks in Mullingar would have been a more suitable location for asylum seekers rather the Temple Lodge's rural location. He also said that the RAI should have held a meeting with people living in the vicinity “out of courtesy”.