Asylum seekers at second Cork centre begin protest

‘The wait is just so long...how do you explain to a child why we are waiting here nine years?’

Independent Senator Rónán Mullen calls on the Government to establish female-only and family-only reception centres and grant the right to seek employment. Legislation to change Ireland's direct provision system was proposed today, September 17th.

 

Asylum seekers at a second Cork reception centre have begun a protest at the direct provision system - the fifth such centre nationally to see protests in the space of the past week.

Up to 90 residents of the Ashbourne House Hotel in Glounthaune in east Cork began a protest this morning, highlighting the delays that they are experiencing.

One of the protesters, Austin, a father of four, said while the staff at Ashbourne are doing their best, some people are waiting up to nine years to be assessed for asylum. “I am here six years and my wife is here seven years - the management are doing the best they can but the problem is the system and the long delays that people have to wait.”

Oluchi, a Nigerian mother of an eight-year-old boy, spoke of her frustration with the system which has seen her still waiting for a decision almost nine years after she first arrived.

“The wait is just so long, if we were here six months or one year, it would manageable but how do you explain to a child why we are waiting here nine years - it’s impossible.

“When he was younger it was fine but now he is attending school and he tells his friends that ‘Look, I sleep in the same bed as my mum’ and his friends are shocked.

“If you committed a serious crime, you would at least know when you would be out - in seven or eight or nine years but we don’t know how long we are going to be here for,” said Oluchi, who has a law degree from Nigeria.

“But what offence have we committed, what offence has my son committed and yet we have what is like a never ending sentence here.”

Another resident, Joe - who lives at the centre with his wife and three children - spoke of the toll the uncertainty is taking on residents, particularly on their mental health and well being.

“People are suffering from frustration and depression having to stay in such conditions for so long and the Government isn’t doing anything and it just goes on and on the same way,” he said.

“A lot of people from Pakistan and India who came after us were given papers and we are still here.”

When the Ashbourne House Hotel centre first opened in 2000, the then minister for justice John O’Donoghue told the Dáil it would be a short stay centre for applicants.

“It is envisaged that asylum seekers at a second Cork reception centre have begun a protest at the direct provision system - the fifth such centre nationally to see protests in the space of the past week.

Meanwhile, some 250 residents at the Kinsale Road Reception and Accommodation Centre on the outskirts of Cork city are also continuing with a protest over the direct provision system.