Asylum seeker (19) told to leave his hostel

 

An asylum seeker says he has been made homeless after being asked to leave an accommodation centre outside Cork city.

Ezuma Smith (19), who arrived in the State from Liberia just over two years ago, was told to leave the Kinsale Road accommodation centre following events surrounding a protest at the building on Wednesday.

Up to 50 asylum seekers demonstrated and stopped traffic for a time as part of a protest against conditions at the centre and at plans to withdraw accommodation for up to 20 residents.

Two asylum seekers, including Mr Smith, were arrested on Wednesday night in connection with alleged public order offences but were released without charge.

Mr Smith yesterday said he had received a letter from the Reception and Integration Agency requesting him to vacate the Kinsale Road centre - which accommodates up to 250 people - and notifying him that he would be refused accommodation in any of the State's other direct provision centres.

The letter said he had "assaulted and threatened" an official and that in view of his "disruptive and violent assault and threatening behaviour", he was being refused any further accommodation.

However, Mr Smith rejected the allegations and said he had been attacked. He had not been charged or formally accused of any wrongdoing and he did not have any history of disruptive behaviour.

"I have not assaulted anyone or threatened anyone, I told the official that he should be ready to see me in court because the video recorded what he had done," he said. "Now I have nowhere to go. I have nowhere to stay. I don't know what will happen to me."

Gertrude Cotter of NASC, the immigrant support centre, said it was clear to her that management and officials had failed to deal adequately with the situation on Wednesday and that some people were now being made scapegoats. "There has been lots of frustration building up at the centre and the asylum seekers feel they are not being listened to. It's all about how you treat people and these people, some of whom have been here for three years, clearly aren't being treated properly."

The Reception and Integration Agency was unavailable to comment on Mr Smith's allegations, but said protests and assaults of the type which took place on Wednesday were "entirely counter-productive" and " unacceptable". It added: "Notification letters of the type referred to above are routinely sent to accommodation centres throughout the country without any protests of the type which have taken place at Kinsale Road.

"The agency is always willing to discuss concerns or grievances with asylum seekers and there are well-established procedures in place. These procedures were not used in this instance."