Eight men have been arrested and charged after what gardai described as a “public order incident” occurred at a hotel in Killarney, Co Kerry on January 1.
The eight accused men who appeared in court in Killarney on Tuesday were Fouad Mekhazni (27), Rabah Kouchih (31), Allal Bazizt (27), Mounir Fadli (34), Zurabi Muqtiashvili (36), Giorgi Basharadze (33), Levani Guliashvili (32), and Amiran Meparishvili (36).
According to Radio Kerry, all of the accused are asylum seekers and had been living at the Killarney hotel which is being used as a temporary direct provision centre where the incident occurred. Four of the men are Algerian while four are Georgian.
All were charged with violent disorder, while Mekhazni was additionally charged with one count of production of a knife, capable of inflicting serious injury.
Gardaí so far believe all the injuries sustained were from one person with a knife, the court heard on Tuesday. A knife was found at the scene and forensic evidence was awaited.
Mekhazni’s solicitor Brendan Ahern said his client denied wielding a knife.
“It started with a small number of Algerians being set upon by a much larger group of Georgian men,” Ahern said in court, adding “my client did not instigate this.”
Seven of the accused were granted bail under conditions including that they leave Killarney and reside at gardai-approved residences, while Mekhazni was remanded into custody.
While eight people were arrested and charged, Ahern reportedly said in court on Tuesday that "four to five Algerian men and between 10 and 15 Georgian men" were involved in the incident.
Gardai said on Tuesday that two men aged in their 20s and 30s were arrested on Tuesday morning, while an additional six men were arrested on January 1, the day of the incident.
All persons who received medical treatment following the incident have since been released from hospital, gardai said.
On Monday, the day after the incident occurred, the Mayor of Killarney Niall Kelleher told RTÉ News at One that the hotel is currently a direct provision centre housing 400 international protection applicants from 13 different nationalities.
Kelleher said he "raised concerns" after Minister Roderic O'Gorman said the Killarney facility would be used to house international protection applicants.
“We raised concerns at the time in relation to the volume of applicants in one location and it was mentioned at the time that it would be 400 single men, which was obviously of a concern in relation to the different nationalities and obviously there would be tensions and those tensions have turned into the shocking reports.
“People of Killarney are justifiably angry and concerned in relation to the reports we've heard last night, but two men are in custody and being questioned and I have every faith in An Garda Síochána to deal with the matter.”
The temporary direct provision centre is housing a "mixture," not just single men, when Sunday's incident occurred, Kelleher clarified.
Kelleher went on to urge Minister Roderic O'Gorman and IPAS (International Protection Accommodation Services) to "look at" the situation.
The hotel where the incident occurred is set to reopen for tourist bookings from May, Kelleher said.