Asylum seekers living in cramped, poorly-serviced sites, says group

Woman was left without equipment for her baby for at least three days, volunteers found

Facilities for asylum seekers at the East End Hotel in Portarlington pictured by a Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland volunteer. Photograph: MSAI

Facilities for asylum seekers at the East End Hotel in Portarlington pictured by a Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland volunteer. Photograph: MSAI

 

A grassroots group of asylum seekers has complained about a lack of support for residents in emergency overflow direct provision facilities, citing one instance a mother left without nappies or baby formula for a 20 day old infant.

The Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland (MASI) visited several hotels and guest houses which are being used to house asylum seekers due to capacity issues at direct provision centres across the state.

MASI said its volunteers had visited a woman who had been placed in emergency accommodation in the Maldron Hotel in Limerick, and who had been left without bottle sterilising equipment, nappies, baby formula or a cot. The organisation said the woman had been without the equipment for three days when it met her.

In a statement, Dalata Hotels, which owns the Maldron Hotel chain, said it could not comment on individual circumstances, but in general it said guests were booked by the Department of Justice into a small number of its hotels, and were provided accommodation on a full board basis consistent with its other customers.

“Services or needs beyond that are the responsibility of the Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) and the Department. Though circumstances rarely necessitate, the hotel acts as a liaison between guests and the RIA/Department, however, the primary responsibility remains with the RIA/DOJE.”

It is understood the issue was addressed soon after the Department of Justice became aware of it.

MASI also claimed that cramped facilities were also observed at the East End Hotel in Portarlington, and that “substandard or inadequate food” was given to asylum seekers at the White House in Roscrea. The organisation said that the accommodation provided to the Roscrea group was also cramped.

Efforts to contact the owners of the White House were unsuccessful. Pat Martin, one of the owners of the East End Hotel, referred queries to the Department of Justice.

MASI also said asylum seekers in Esplanade Hotel in Bray, Co Wicklow had been told they were not allowed visitors on the premises. The hotel also referred queries to the Department of Justice.

In a statement, the department said the 30 providers of emergency accommodation were contractually obliged to provide bed spaces and breakfast, lunch and dinner. Prior to agreement, the premises are visited by a staff member from the RIA.

It said that while emergency locations were often opened at short notice, the RIA then liaised with the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection regarding the local roll-out of required services to residents. It said RIA was available to deal with issues residents are experiencing and would welcome queries MASI may have received directly.

There are 6,033 people in the 38 dedicated direct provision centres in the state. Earlier this year, the Department of Justice issued a nation-wide call for bed and board in hotels so it could continue to offer accommodation to newly-arrived applicants. In addition to people living in the direct provision system, there are more than 775 people with a protection status living in the system who have permission to remain and have access to housing supports. However, due to the wider housing crisis, these people often remain in direct provision despite being eligible for housing which is ultimately unavailable elsewhere.