Sub-standard and poorly run direct provision accommodation centres are a “scandal” and should be closed down, according to a spokesperson for Residents Against Racism.
The comment was made as demonstrators gathered at the gates of the Mosney centre in Co Meath on Tuesday to highlight the plight of asylum seekers there and the long delays in deciding their cases. A number of smaller peaceful demonstations were also due to be held in other areas around the country, including Galway, to show solidarity and to campaign for reform of the asylum system.
The protests, which were supported by the Residents Against Racism and the Irish Refugee Council, coincided with the August 31 deadline set by the Reception and Integration Agency (RIA ) for 109 Mosney residents to move to a different asylum hostel in Dublin to save €1.8 million.
As more than 60 protesters gathered at the Mosney centre’s gates at 10.30am on Tuesday Rosanna Flynn, a spokesperson for Residents Against Racism, told the Advertiser: “We’ve met with friends in Galway who are concerned with centres there. Actually Mosney is the best centre in Ireland, it’s basic, but it’s OK. Other places do not measure up at all. It’s a scandal and they should be closed.
“The record in Galway is not great. A woman with epilepsy died there in May and another woman died of starvation three years ago. Alarms bells should be going off when that happens. The centres are supposed to be regularly inspected. They are franchised out to people to run them. What are the standards of these inspections? There needs to be an independent body involved which is not connected to the Irish Government.”
Ms Flynn then explained that the purpose of these demonstrations was “to highlight the bad state of these hostels and the length of time people are waiting for applications to be processed”.
“These centres are meant to be temporary accommodation but I know of people waiting eight and a half years for their application to be processed. That’s not temporary. It’s an enormous time for anyone to wait and there are many that are left in a vulnerable position as a result,” she said.
According to figures obtained from the Reception and Integration Agency as at end of May 2010 occupancy at the county’s four accommodation centres - Eglinton Hotel, The Prom, Salthill; Lisbrook House, Headford Road, Galway; Great Western House in Eyre Square, Galway; and Dun Gibbons Hostel in Clifden - was at more than 730.
A year ago, the Galway Rape Crisis Centre expressed serious concern for the vulnerability of many women and children, many of whom were victims of violence and sexual assault, warning that there could be another Ryan Report in 20 years time unless urgent changes were made to protect the safety and wellbeing of people living in the direct provision accommodation centres in Galway.
More recently, Brainwave, the Irish Epilepsy Association, raised concerns about the standard of care provided for asylum seekers suffering from epilepsy following the death of a 43-year-old Nigerian woman at the Eglinton Hotel. The woman died when she suffered a seizure in the bedroom she shared with three others.