Staff at an East Cork hotel fear for their livelihoods as no future bookings are taken after a local announcement of a new company taking over.
Nearly sixty people work at The Quality Inn hotel in Youghal, and there are fears for jobs as well as tourism in the town ahead of the high season.
The move has caused a lot of confusion around East Cork as bookings have been cancelled, including a wedding planned for next month and guests due to come for the international Ironman festival in August.
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Meetings are expected to be held with Ironman organizers to try to find alternative accommodation for those whose reservations have been cancelled.
It is understood that the government is in talks with the new company on using the hotel to house Ukrainian refugees.
The hotel consists of a mix of 25 rooms, 48 two-bedroom family apartments and over 30 holiday homes.
East Cork TD Pat Buckley says he has real concerns about the suitability of the hotel being used as accommodation for vulnerable people as well as the impact this move could have on tourism in Youghal.
He told CorkBeo: “I think this government is so out of touch with reality, yes there is a terrible war going on and we have to be very aware of the situation and all these people are damaged by this war.
“Appropriate space and accommodation must be found in an area where everyone can live in harmony and share all local services and amenities, but location is vital,
“Youghal depends on tourism and has invested a lot in recent years and it will definitely have a huge impact this year. I’m not sure the government has thought about that.
“This year’s Ironman is dependent on people using these facilities and we are not yet sure that reservations will be honored,” Deputy Buckley added.
It is understood Cork County Council had previously scouted potential sites to accommodate refugees, but were not involved in the move which is part of a deal involving the government’s International Protection Accommodation Team ( IPAS).
IPAS, which operates under the Department of Equality, places Ukrainian refugees in temporary accommodation on arrival in Ireland.
In an update posted on their website, they stated; “In recent days, IPAS has contracted more than 2,500 hotel rooms” to house the refugees.
So far, 2,589 people have been sheltered in Ireland to escape the war in Ukraine.
When contacted, the ministry said it was “not in a position to comment”.
The hotel is currently registered with a company called Swiftcastle Ltd, a manager also declined to comment when contacted about the deal.
Liam Jones, the director of the Redbarn Management Company, a non-profit organization which represents the owners of 61 cottages down the road from the hotel, says he is very concerned about the impact this development could have.
“The hotel is certainly not the most suitable location for refugees in Youghal, the town depends on the tourists it attracts in the summer, and residents have worked hard over the years alongside business owners to make it an attractive place to visit.
“So much work has gone into preparing for the Ironman festival in August and now people are really going to struggle to find accommodation.
“I hope Youghal can recover from any impact this has on trade and I hope workers’ livelihoods are protected.”
Local councilor and former Mayor of Cork, Mary Linehan-Foley, hopes locals will rent rooms in their homes for the festival this summer.
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