Authorities tight-lipped on use of Carrick hotel to house foreign nationals
Public representatives in Carrickfergus will be given an update on Monday about the fact one of the town’s hotels is being used to house foreign nationals.
It has emerged that the Home Office (which is in charge of UK immigration matters) is using the Loughshore Hotel, just on the southern outskirts of the town, to base the individuals.
The News Letter has made enquiries about the matter, but the authorities have been extremely tight-lipped about the new arrivals.
The hotel (which, besides being a significant employer, is also a major sponsor of the town’s football team) is currently closed due to Covid, and is not set to re-open until September.
News that foreign nationals are staying there has been circulating widely around the town for a number of days, along with a raft of rumours about the nature of their stay – with some people claiming that they had been bussed into the town from the Republic or Great Britain.
To try and establish the facts of the case, the News Letter posed questions to both Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, and to the Home Office itself, including:
> How many people are staying there, and what is their status? (For example, are they asylum-seekers who are waiting for their claims to be processed?)
> Where have the arrivals come from?
> How long will they be staying?
> And is the Home Office, the council, or both funding the stay?
Neither institution answered any of these queries.
Instead, the Home Office said: “The asylum system is being exploited by criminal gangs who facilitate dangerous, unnecessary and illegal small boat crossings.
“Our Nationality and Borders Bill will fix this broken system to deter these dangerous and illegal crossings.
“In the meantime, due to the unprecedented demand, we have had to use temporary accommodation such as hotels to manage demands on the asylum estate.”
Meanwhile the council would only say: “A special council meeting is to be held on Monday, July 26, at 6.30pm for council to receive an update on the current position regarding the Loughshore Hotel.”
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