MORE people are now living at the Direct Provision Centre in Lisdoonvarna than its contracted capacity.
While this does not necessarily mean that the centre at the King Thomond Hotel is overcrowded, it does mean that the numbers coming to the North Clare village are greater than what locals were told would be arriving.
According to figures provided by the Department of Justice, there are 117 people living there, while the contracted capacity is 115. In a statement accompanying the figures, the department said, “The contracted capacity is not the maximum capacity. It is what we would ordinarily pay as per the contract. It is not at all unusual for the actual number of persons present in an accommodation centre to be in excess of the contract. This does not indicate that there is overcrowding at the centre. The overcapacity may be due to family configuration reasons, eg where a baby is born to a family etc.”
Paddy Dunne of Lisdoonvarna Fáilte said that the new arrivals have been integrating well with the locals.
He also said that while an additional two people won’t cause a significant difference, it shows that the State has been disingenuous. “It’s only an extra two people. But people were saying back in March that it wouldn’t go beyond 115 but the Government have broken their promise yet again.”
Mr Dunne said that greater consultation should have taken place at the initial stage, while facilities for the increased numbers should have been put in place.
The fact that this was not done is certainly not the fault of the asylum seekers, he said, but showed a level of dishonesty from the Government. “What can you expect from the Government at hand. They’ll say one thing and do another,” he claimed.
He praised the work being done by local organisation Links to help the asylum seekers settle in and spokesperson for that group Nicole Pennekamp said that most of the new arrivals are content. “Most of them are happy enough. A few of the residents have already got refugee status, which is fantastic.”
She said that many of the asylum seekers are doing courses or going to classes but a lack of local childcare is something of a problem.
“Most of the people are going to school; they’re doing different courses, healthcare, computer classes, woodwork classes. There are a few that have children at home because there is no space in the creche, unfortunately or in the preschool.”