Asylum seekers may be spared lengthy journeys to Dublin
Minister asks officials to look at impact of business being conducted at remote centres
Donnacha Ó Laoghaire of Sinn Féin condemned the arson attack in Moville at the weekend on a hotel that was intended to provide accommodation for up to 100 asylum seekers. Photograph: Aoife Moore/PA Wire
Immigration officials might travel to remote direct provision centres to deal with asylum seekers’ applications to save them from lengthy journeys to Dublin.
Minister of State David Stanton told the Dáil he had asked Department of Justice officials to examine “the logistical and resource implications of business being carried out at the remote centres”.
He said it “would mean that rather than asylum seekers having to travel to Dublin, officials would travel to the centres”.
Mr Stanton, who has responsibility for immigration, acknowledged the difficulties asylum seekers in remote areas had in getting to Dublin for interviews, appeal hearings and the renewal of immigration certificates.
He told Sinn Féin justice spokesman Donnacha Ó Laoghaire: “We are very much aware of the issue of transport to Dublin.”
He said that in the case of residents in the Sligo direct provision centre, the department “has agreed with a contractor to arrange overnight accommodation and comfort breaks for those travelling to Dublin”. He added that overnight accommodation in Dublin would also be sourced if required.
Mr Ó Laoghaire said local communities were welcoming to asylum seekers in direct provision in their localities. But he pointed to the challenges they faced in getting to Dublin.
He said that travel to Moville, Co Donegal, took 10 hours through six counties including Northern Ireland from Dublin. Asylum seekers are not allowed to leave the jurisdiction.
“Kenmare, [Co Kerry], is probably an overnight trip,” he said.
“It is possible to travel to Lisdoonvarna, [Co Clare] in one day, involving a very short period of time in Dublin. Mount Trenchard, [Co Limerick], does not even have public bus access.”
He said “as much as possible should be brought to the direct provision centres” and he called on the department to provide transport for residents.
Mr Ó Laoghaire described the direct provision model as “deeply flawed and broken” and said that “it effectively warehouses those seeking asylum in this country for prolonged periods of time”.
He also condemned the “quite disgraceful” arson attack in Moville at the weekend on a hotel that was intended to provide accommodation for up to 100 asylum seekers.
Mr Stanton, who reiterated his condemnation of the attack “in the strongest possible terms”, said there was no place in a civilised society for that type of behaviour.
The Minister pointed out there had been many changes in the operation of direct provision, including self-catering and communal arrangements.
He said 1,500 residents in five centres were now living independently and “in total over 2,900 residents in the centres are no longer under the direct provision model as originally set up and “further progress will be made”.