Asylum seekers protest closure of Dublin direct provision centre

Closure because of need to upgrade catering facilities, says private company running it

Residents of Georgian Court direct provision centre protest over the accommodation’s planned closure, outside the Department of Justice

Residents of Georgian Court direct provision centre protest over the accommodation’s planned closure, outside the Department of Justice

 

Asylum seekers living in Georgian Court direct provision centre on Dublin’s Gardiner Street held a protest outside the Department of Justice on Friday, over the closure of the centre.

On Monday residents in the centre received a letter from the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service stating “due to circumstances outside of our control” the centre would be closed in February 2018.

Several residents expressed fears about where they would be relocated to, and if they would have to move their children to new schools. A spokesman for the Department of Justice said efforts will be made to place asylum seekers in the Dublin area, but “this cannot be guaranteed given the overall pressures on the accommodation available”.

The centre houses approximately 50 people and is run by a private contractor, Old George Ltd. Officials from the Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) recently met the company, which cited several reasons for the closure, including “the RIA’s request that improved facilities such as self-catering be provided at the centre”, said a spokesman.

Local schools

Astrit Selgjkaj (44) from Albania has lived in the city centre accommodation for the last five years, and his young son (6) and daughter (12) attend local schools in the area.

“When I told the news to my daughter, she cried and she told to me: ‘I don’t want to change the school because I made friends – the school is brilliant,’” he said. Mr Selgjkaj has been living in direct provision for seven years, and is appealing for “leave to remain” in Ireland, following a failed application for asylum. “We don’t know where we are going to be … This is terrible news,” he said.

Another resident in the centre said he had just been accepted to study computer science in University College Dublin, through a special grant for asylum seekers. He requested his name be withheld over concerns speaking publicly might affect his asylum application.

He said if he was relocated to a centre outside of Dublin he would not be able to take up the college place. “Everybody is really breaking down” following the news of the closure, he said.

‘Emotional stress’

Kelvin Akhbue (36) is an asylum seeker from Nigeria who has lived in the centre for the last six months. “People are worried. They brought us here, we created friends and family, we are going to miss these people, it is going to cause emotional stress to us,” he said.

The directors of the contractor firm, Sean Lyons, Graham Carry and Sean Lyons jnr, are also the directors of Fazyard Ltd, which runs two other direct provision centres: Montague Hotel in Emo, Co Laois, and Clondalkin Towers Refugee Centre in Dublin 22. The two firms reported combined net assets of €5.2 million last year, according to filed financial accounts.