Unsanctioned Modular Homes Removed From Westmeath Village

The Department of Integration have communicated the owner doesn't have permission for the move.

The order has been given for the removal of modular homes from a Westmeath village.

Trucks carrying the equipment were moved into Coole overnight with the aim of providing accommodation for asylum seekers.

The cranes have now left the site after arriving nine hours ago.

However, the Department of Integration have issued correspondence with Westmeath Local Authorities to say the owner of these homes has no permission to place the homes on the site.

Longford Westmeath TD and Minister for Enterprise Peter Burke says the Government are not facilitating this:

Independent Local Election Candidate, Noeleen Fanning, says Coole residents are relieved but they'll be ready if the trucks and cranes come back:

The local crane company involved in the process has said they weren't aware of the opposition facing the move, and they were compliant in being the first to leave the village after consultation with locals in Coole.

Locals also shook hands with the company workers and thanked them for their assistance prior to their departure.

Whitten Road Haulage Ltd, who provided transport to the site, provided the following statement to Midlands 103:

"We were contracted to perform the haulage to the site. When we arrived at 4.30am to deliver the loads there were site issues. All legal obligations on ourselves for permits and escorts were followed."

Minister Peter Burke gave the following statement:

I have been linked in with community in Coole over the last number of months and have met with the group, both in Coole and in my office, and listened to their concerns.

I would acknowledge that there were 98 International Protection Applicants who moved into Coole Court, a renovated section of the former St Joseph's Orthopaedic Hospital, last October and there have been no issues.

When I heard that further works were being carried by the developer in Coole last month, I spoke to Minister O’Gorman and his officials about the concerns of the community. 

In a very rural village with a small population, it was my view that it would be disproportionate to plan to move further people to the area, considering that there were already 98 people located here earlier in the year.

There had been no engagement with the community and no local information available, which created a vacuum.

Minister O’Gorman informed me that the department had no further contract in place in Coole and had no knowledge as to why the developer was carrying out works. 

All modular homes for International Protection Applicants require planning permission, and I raised the potential of illegal development with Westmeath County Council at this juncture, who advised any development here would be illegal.  

I informed the community of same, as well as the local media.

I was contacted in the early hours of this morning with reports of cranes being moved into Coole to transport large modular homes.  I was back in touch directly with the Minister, who is in Brussels, and spoke to him and subsequently to his officials.

It remains the case, and the Department have advised me of this in writing , that the Government has no role nor knowledge of the movement of modular homes today.  

There is no contract between IPAS and the developer in relation to this development. 

The Department has reverted to the developer to clarify this again.

A spokesperson from The Department of Integration gave the following statement to Midlands 103:

In October 2023, the Department entered into a contract for 98 beds for International Protection applicants at a property in Coole Court, Coole, Mullingar, Co Westmeath, N91 F7XR. 

A two year contract was signed with the provider.

The Department has no contract in place for the provision of modular homes at this address.

The Department did receive an offer for additional capacity at the site through the tender process.

This offer has been rejected, as it did not comply with planning regulations.

The provider has already been advised that this offer was refused. 

Only the accommodation currently in use at this site is contracted to the Department and no additional capacity is planned at this site.

The Department is clear that no contract for modular units will be entered into at this site.

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