It is understood that Paradub Ltd still intends to go ahead with the purchase of the Shannon Key West Hotel from James Kiernan, despite the property being the subject of two suspected arson attacks already this year. After a protracted legal battle between Paradub Ltd, the company seeking to buy the hotel, and James Kiernan, the man who currently owns the hotel, an agreement was reached in relation to the sale of the hotel before Christmas.
Sources close to the Democrat have confirmed that the sale was due to close on Friday, January 11th, however, that closing date was pushed back following a suspected arson attack on the property on the evening of January 10th. It is understood that Paradub Ltd was hopeful that the sale of the hotel would be completed this week, 5-weeks after they had originally intended but a second suspected arson attack at the property this week created further uncertainty with regards to when the sale would close.
The hotel, which is earmarked for the arrival of 80 asylum seekers, was the subject of a second suspected arson attack on Monday night. There were no flames seen by anyone whom the Democrat spoke with but there were numerous reports of smoke being seen rising from the first floor of the property by passers-by. Shortly after 9.15 pm on Monday evening, both Gardaí and fire services responded to reports of a fire at the hotel. At approximately 11 pm that night, Superintendent Kevin English arrived at the incident and the property and area surrounding it was sealed off as a crime scene, including the road in front of the hotel.
It was confirmed on Tuesday morning that two small fires had been set at the property by an intruder or intruders, who gained entry to the first floor of the property after breaking a patio door. Gardai spent a considerable amount of time examining the balcony area of the hotel and a first-floor reception area and bedroom which were adjacent to the balcony. The fires were quickly brought under control by two security personnel and a foreman, who were on the premises, and no serious damage was caused.
The attacks were widely condemned by politicians and community leaders. Minister of State with responsibility for Immigration, David Stanton, said neither he nor his government would be intimidated by the criminal attacks.
Late last year, James Kiernan agreed to let the property to Abbey Castle Accommodation Ltd, despite it being the subject of legal proceedings which had been initiated by Paradub Ltd, which was seeking to purchase the property and reopen it as a hotel. Abbey Castle Accommodation Ltd intend to open the property as a centre for the accommodation of asylum seekers. It is Paradub Ltd’s stated position that they wish to open the property as a hotel “as soon as possible.”
Paradub Ltd has raised concerns in relation to a number of elements of the lease between James Kiernan and Abbey Castle Accommodation Ltd. Specifically, they notified all members of the Oireachtas, by way of an open letter, that the lease detailed that the property was being leased by Abbey Castle Accommodation Ltd for the purpose of accommodating people under the Irish Refugee Protection Programme, a programme specifically tailored to meet the needs of refugees. In their open letter, Paradub Ltd explained that they had concerns that the programme that Abbey Castle Accommodation Ltd offered the property up for, which has been confirmed by the Department of Justice, is specifically tailored to address the needs of asylum seekers as part of the International Protection Programme. In their open letter, Paradub Ltd noted that the Department of Justice and Equality may find itself exposed to legal challenges should they decide to move ahead with plans to accommodate asylum seekers in the property.
The Department of Justice has stated that it still intends to progress it’s plans to accommodate asylum seekers in the property, however, sources tell the Democrat that the Department will not risk doing so unless everything is above board and they are on a sound legal footing. Sources say a date of February 22nd had been tentatively proposed as a date for the arrival of asylum seekers at the facility, and that the date was only made public on Tuesday of this week, following the suspected arson attack.
Paradub Ltd has declined to comment specifically on the most recent suspected arson attack, other than to condemn it, but have reaffirmed their stated position which is that they intend to complete the purchase with a view to opening the property as a hotel as soon as possible. Paradub Ltd has been trying to purchase the property since late-2016, and it is understood that they have significant plans to refurbish and reopen it as a 3 or 4-star destination hotel.
In early 2018, Paradub Ltd said they had hoped to get the property up and running as a hotel for the summer season of 2018, but that deadline has come and gone. Since then, the news of the lease between James Kiernan and Abbey Castle Accommodation Ltd and the deal with the Department of Justice came to light, which has posed difficulties for Paradub Ltd’s plans, however, they appear to have remained resolute in their intentions to purchase the hotel.
Talking to locals, it is clear the community are hoping the hotel can be reopened before summer 2019, in order to service the village during what is expected to be a very busy tourist and festival season. It is unclear whether that will happen or not. However, it seems clear that Paradub Ltd intends to do everything they can, subject to any legal obligations imposed upon them, to open the property as a hotel as soon as possible.
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