Protestors in Cootehill

‘Where is our engagement?’

November 12 marked 40 weeks since protests first began in Cootehill over proposed plans to use the former White Horse Hotel to accommodate refugees.

If anything the group, which numbers in their dozens, regardless of the weather, has become even more committed to its cause. The steel to their campaign appears only hardened by a perceived lack of meaningful engagement from both authorities and public representatives.

“I doubt you could say it about any other group that has met for 40 weeks in a row,” a spokesperson for ‘Cootehill Concerned Community Group’ told the Celt.

The group is highlighting other troubling issues such as alleged suspicious approaches of younger persons.

They began their campaign soon after news emerged that the White Horse Hotel was being considered by the Department of Integration for ‘Beneficiaries of Temporary Protection’ (BOTPs).

Today they claim, as they always have done, that the town of Cootehill is ill prepared to cater for a rapid influx of new residents where demand for existing services is already at an all-time high.

“There has to be some form of planning. We’ve asked the questions, but they’ve not been answered.”

Looking to the support shown from all sides of the political spectrum to the community in Castletara in their fight against attempts to house asylum seekers in a converted former equestrian centre, the Cootehill campaigners say: “Where is our engagement? Where are the politicians coming down and meeting us? We know the questions can be asked. So why haven’t they? We feel let down, and very disheartened.”

The group spokesperson says they intend to continue protesting until such time as they get honest answers.

“We would be more than welcoming if somebody could tell us that the people who were coming [to the White Horse] were going to be families. At the same time, we need to get a commitment that the services are going to be there, not just for us to access, but for them to access as well. Our doctors, as it is, are inundated. The garda barracks has no one stationed there regularly. Where are the amenities? The town can’t just be used as a dumping spot.”

They also still haven’t ruled out standing a candidate in the next local election.

“It has and is being discussed.”