THE plight of asylum seekers living in the dilapidated Direct Provision centre in Miltown Malbay has been brought the attention of the Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan. Rodents, leaking bathrooms and substandard food, are among serious problems that have been identified at the Central Hostel on the Main Street, resulting in a call for its closure.
However, on Wednesday of this week (June 3), Mr Pat Kelly, owner of the Central Hostel, said he didn’t wish to make any comment on the issues raised on behalf of the asylum seekers other than to say “these are all false allegations”.
A letter has been sent on behalf of the 12 men to the minister by the Miltown Malbay Welcome Group, outlining health and safety issues at the hostel where the asylum seekers are being housed.
The letter has been copied to Clare TD Cathal Crowe, who is calling on the minister to deal with the issues as a matter of urgency.
Up to last Christmas, 35 men lived in the Miltown Malbay hostel before some were transferred to a travel lodge in Galway and more recently 15 were moved to the Ennis hostel. Despite the awful conditions in the West Clare centre, the transfer to both locations met with strong disapproval, as the men had grown to like the Miltown community.
Even though the numbers have been reduced significantly, a spokesperson for Miltown Malbay Welcome, Áine Rynne is adamant that it should be closed immediately because of its terrible conditions and the fact that it does not allow for proper social distancing.
At present, measures are in place at Direct Provision centres to deal with outbreaks of Covid-19; including offsite self-isolation facilities to ensure appropriate social distancing.
Deputy Crowe has welcomed measures like this, during this pandemic, but he is concerned about longer-term ongoing safety issues in the Miltown Malbay centre.
“In a letter I received from the Miltown Malbay Welcome Group, they have called for the complete closure of this Direct Provision centre. This is because of the standard of accommodation that the residents have been facing.
“Pictures and videos have been recorded of leaking ceilings, water running down the bedroom walls when the showers are in use, rodent issues and substandard food that is not providing the nourishment these people need to survive.
“I would ask that the Minister for Justice directly intervene in this case and also look at Clare’s other direct provision centres in Knockalisheen, near my home in Meelick, and in Lisdoonvarna, to ensure that those who have been forced to seek asylum in this county have the necessary amenities to have an acceptable standard of life until their applications for asylum have been processed.”
Áine Rynne said there is anger among the local community at the way the men are being treated.
“They have good interaction with locals and have integrated very well since arriving. Their presence here has been a positive experience.
“Now we are gravely concerned for their health during this time of Covid-19; the conditions they are living in are terrible and they cannot have the social distance they need,” she said.
Áine said as well as having the backing of the local community, Miltown Malbay Welcome has support from other areas where there are Direct Provision centres. Also giving critical support is the Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland (MASI), an independent platform for people seeking asylum.
This nationwide organisation seeks justice, freedom and dignity for all people seeking protection in Ireland. It is not an NGO; it is not affiliated to any NGO or political party. Is not funded and depends on personal resources and fundraising. MASI works toward ending the current system of Direct Provision and fights for the right to work and education, residency for all in the system, and an end to the deportation regime
“The group spearheaded the recent public protests demanding better treatment and services for people in direct