‘Review conditions in asylum seeker centres’

by Gazette Reporter
Senator Catherine Ardagh said news that there would be no new schools for Dublin 8 and Dublin 12 is “bitterly disappointing”

The conditions of asylum seekers living in direct provision centres, particularly those in Dublin, need to be reviewed.
That’s according to Dublin City councillor Catherine Ardagh (FF), who says the current conditions are unsuitable.
There are currently four accommodation centres in Dublin; one self-catering and one reception centre (where people are initially accommodated for up to 14 days and then moved to an accommodation centre)– Balseskin Centre, which is the largest with a capacity of 269.
Speaking to The Gazette, the local councillor said a review was badly needed especially in centres where families were living.
“They are living in very much overcrowded conditions – it’s not really a place to raise a family.
“I have a motion at the next council meeting to ask [Aodhain O’Riordain, Minister of State with responsibility for New Communities, Culture and Equality] to look into these centres especially in the Dublin area.
“I do a lot of asylum cases. You would have young men sleeping all day and you have families there but mothers have never made dinners before because they can’t access kitchens.
“It is a sad situation – it’s desperate. Some of them are there for years,” she said.
The Irish Refugee Centre (IRC) says institutionalised living is “not appropriate” especially for vulnerable individuals or groups such as children, disabled, elderly, victims of trauma or torture etc.
According to a Reception and Integration Agency report on the centres for 2014, there are 34 centres across 16 counties in Ireland with 4,364 residents.
Of these, 37.2% are adult males, 28.9% are adult females and 33.9% children. Figures also show that 55% of residents are there more than four years.
When the system was first set up in 2000, it was envisaged that people would spend no more than six months in the system. According to an IRC report, none of the accommodation centres was designed for long-term living.
The IRC proposes an alternative reception system for people seeking international protection. This one-off scheme sets out the different categories that people fall under, and how and why each of them should be included in a scheme to grant them some form of status in Ireland as soon as possible.
Sue Conlan, chief executive of the Irish Refugee Council, said: “The direct provision system was designed as a short-term option at a time of a crisis 15 years ago. The damage that has been done down the years, particularly to children and vulnerable adults, will not be known for a long time but we know enough to say that this should be brought to an end as soon as possible. We cannot afford for it to continue,” she said.
Minister O’Riordain, who has been critical of the centres in the past, said: “My colleague, Justice Minister Fitzgerald, and I have established a working group to look at the entire protection process.
“It includes members of the NGO sector who work in the asylum and refugee area and is chaired by former High Court Judge Bryan McMahon. I have asked the group to examine the entire direct provision system and to report back by Easter with their recommendations.”

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