Justice minister to review Lisbrook closure decision

Bisola Akanni and her daughter Chelsea at Lisbrook House from which the asylum seekers are being moved. Photo: 	Mike Shaughnessy

Bisola Akanni and her daughter Chelsea at Lisbrook House from which the asylum seekers are being moved. Photo: Mike Shaughnessy

The future of residents at Lisbrook House asylum centre remains unclear this morning as the Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter, reviews the controversial decision to close the centre and initiate relocation proceedings.

The decision to postpone the closure of the centre located off Bothar na dTreabh came at the 11th hour yesterday amidst reports that buses were making their way to the premises to begin the transfer of a number of the residents, a move which would have been met by opposition from protesters gathered at the scene.

Protests have been taking place at Lisbrook House since Tuesday after it was announced last week by the Refugee Integration Agency and Department of Justice that the centre, formerly the Ibis Hotel, was to close. More than 270 asylum seekers were given notification that they were to be relocated to other locations around the country. It is understood that at least 100 residents had been told that they would be moved within 48 hours after only being given one week’s notice.

The announcement and the subsequent actions of the RIA and Justice department have been met with intense opposition with protesters picketing this week to defend the rights of the vulnerable Lisbrook House residents whose lives could be severely affected by the relocation plans. The residents include families, single men and women, many of whom are integrated locally. There is particular concern for the effect the closure and relocation plans will have on the children who have already started a new school year.

The views of the protesters have received much support including the backing of Sinn Féin senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh who welcomed the announcement made by Minister Shatter to review the decision. Senator Ó Clochartaigh had made representations to the Justice department and to the RIA to postpone the decision and allow the residents more time to adjust to the situation.

As the protests gathered momentum, senator Ó Clochartaigh said that announcing a closure order, with such short notice, is an “appalling way to treat any human being” and the residents “deserve better treatment from a country that constantly fights for their own citizens abroad”.

“The children who have just embarked on a new school year, with their new school uniforms will be uprooted and taken out of their schools, away from their friends and support structures. All ties with the local community will be broken for the parents and children. They will have to start off anew in a new village somewhere else - they do not even know what county they will be living in.”

Welcoming the announcement by Minister Shatter yesterday, Senator Ó Clochartaigh said: “Great credit is due to all those who lobbied Government representatives and stood up for the rights of the Lisbrook residents. Unfortunately this latest announcement offers no security of tenure for the residents involved. We must continue to support the residents of Lisbrook and try and facilitate dialogue with the authorities. We must attempt to reach an equitable, fairer conclusion.”

Stressing that the hard work to protect rights and ensure the Lisbrook House residents are treated fairly will continue, senator Ó Clochartaigh confirmed that a “rally organised for Saturday will go ahead and we are appealing for members of the public to come out and show their support.”

The rally will take place on Saturday, September 15, at 1pm in Eyre Square. Those in attendance will then march to Spanish Arch where there will be speakers and music.

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