Up to 300 residents of a direct provision centre for asylum seekers in Cork yesterday mounted a protest at the system of direct provision.
Residents at the Kinsale Road Reception and Accommodation Centre on the outskirts of Cork city began the protest at 5am yesterday and blocked staff from gaining entry to the premises.
"Some of the people here have been in the Kinsale Road Centre for eight and nine years and they are calling for the ending of the direct provision system once and for all," said Joe Moore of Anti-Deportation Ireland, which is supporting the action.
The protest comes just a day after Minister of State at the Department of Justice Aodhán Ó Ríordáin criticised the way that direct provision centres for asylum seekers are being operated.
Theresa, an asylum seeker from Nigeria, revealed that she had been at the Kinsale Road centre for nine years and was still waiting a decision on her status and that of her two young children. She experienced frustration over the conditions at the centre, saying that they had serious concerns about food, but also about the effect on people’s mental wellbeing.
“It affects both adults and children – imagine a child growing up and living his entire life in a direct provision centre – that’s not right or good for any child,” she said.
“If I was a prisoner in jail at least I would have hope because I would know when I am leaving the system, but here I have no idea when my application will be processed.”
“You hope something will happen very soon, but before you know it the days and the years are passing – you are holding on to hope because you never know when it will happen.”
Christian, who comes from the Congo and has been at the centre for seven years, said that Irish people had no idea what the conditions were like for him and his fellow asylum seekers.
“The Irish people don’t know what is happening to us here in centres like this – they should be made aware that we need to live outside and be able to work – I’m an electrician, I can work here.”
Another man from South Africa said that he had been in limbo since he arrived in Ireland two years ago; he criticised the Irish authorities for failing to address people's applications.
“I have been waiting for over two years and when you compare this system to the apartheid system that we had in South Africa, there is a lot of racism in it,” he said.
Monitoring the situation
The Department of Justice said in a statement that the Reception and Integration Agency was monitoring the situation at the Kinsale Road centre, and was anxious that services, particularly food provision, would be restored to residents at the centre as soon as possible. Contacted yesterday evening by
The Irish Times
, Christian confirmed that the protest was continuing and the residents were determined to continue the blockade through the night if necessary.