Asylum seekers' residence under investigation - court told

 

THE HIGH Court has been told that allegations by a man about the operation of an asylum seekers’ residence are the subject of a Garda investigation.

The allegations include a claim that the manager of Richmond Court Accommodation Centre in Longford, Fine Gael councillor James Keogh, had paid money and made promises to residents there in return for their votes in last year’s local elections.

Earlier this month, the man was informed of allegations he had been abusive to staff at the Longford centre and was being transferred to another centre in Co Limerick. The man has denied the accusations against him.

The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, yesterday applied for leave to bring judicial review proceedings against the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Ireland and the Attorney General arising from the proposed move. He is seeking an injunction requiring he be accommodated at the Longford Reception Centre.

Mr Justice Michael Peart adjourned the application for a week to allow it be heard on notice to the State respondents.

The man is seeking a number of declarations including the “Dispersal” and “Direct Provision” systems of accommodation for asylum seekers is incompatible with the State’s obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights.

Killian McMurrow, defending, said his client came to Ireland in 2006 and was sent to Longford in 2008. After being ejected from the centre earlier this month, he had been staying with a friend in Longford on a temporary basis. He was destitute as he could not receive his €20 weekly welfare payment and was soon to be homeless.

In an affidavit, the man said, while the accommodation in Longford was poor with no educational or recreational facilities, he had made friends with others of the same ethnicity and faith as himself and enjoyed community life there.

He said he made a complaint to the Garda relating to alleged electoral fraud involving residents and Mr Keogh and the Garda investigation was the subject of reports in the media.

He also made formal complaints about “inedible” food at the centre, gathering signatures from 22 others and said people had become ill after eating.

There was no security at the centre and a member of staff had adopted a consistently hostile attitude towards him, he said.