More than 20 asylum seekers housed to date in Temple Lodge

Story by Adrian Cusack

Wednesday, 16th May, 2018 3:42pm

More than 20 asylum seekers housed to date in Temple Lodge

Temple Lodge in Horseleap which is now being used as an asylum seeker accommodation centre.

A total of 23 people have moved into the former Temple Lodge Hotel and Spa since it became an asylum seeker centre at the end of April.

The figure was provided by the Department of Justice yesterday (Tuesday) in response to a query from the Westmeath Independent. 

The facility in Horseleap, near Moate, entered into an agreement with the Department to provide asylum seeker accommodation after it responded to a call for "expressions of interest" in the service earlier this year. 

News of this development emerged for the first time in late April, leading to criticism from nearby residents about the way in which the change of use was handled. 

This week, the Department said 23 single people, from twelve countries, were currently being accommodated at the site. 

A Department spokesperson pointed out that these were potentially vulnerable people, and as a result he could not provide specifics such as their gender, age, or countries of origin.

Temple Lodge is in a quiet rural location and a bus service to bring the residents to nearby towns has commenced. 

The spokesperson said that, at the moment, buses to Moate are being provided twice a day, while there is a "once-a-week" bus service to Athlone. 

"This is subject to review once more residents arrive," he said.  

It's understood that Temple Lodge can accommodate up to 81 asylum seekers in total. 

The Department has pledged to set up a 'Friends of the Centre' group which would involve voluntary and sporting organisations  and would help the new centre's residents to become involved in the local community. 

When asked how this was progressing, the Department's spokesperson said plans were being drawn up for the first meeting of the group. 

"The management of the centre are in the process of developing links with services in the local area with a view to organising the inaugural meeting of the 'Temple Friends of the Centre' group," he said.


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