Asylum seekers in Donegal facing 10 hours travel for appointments

Direct provision centre at Caiseal Mara Hotel in Moville set to house 100 asylum seekers

The Caiseal Mara Hotel in Moville. Photograph: Google Maps

The Caiseal Mara Hotel in Moville. Photograph: Google Maps

 

Residents living in the new direct provision centre in Moville in Co Donegal who need to attend appointments and case hearings in Dublin will be forced to travel for 10 hours in order to reach the capital.

The new centre, which will open in the coming weeks, will be located in the former Caiseal Mara Hotel and is expected to provide accommodation for about 100 people.

However, under international protection rules, asylum seekers are not allowed to leave the Irish State while their application is under consideration. This means they are unable to cross the Border into Northern Ireland.

Rather than taking the more direct bus to Dublin via Derry, Caiseal Mara residents will be forced to travel via Letterkenny, Donegal town and Sligo in order to reach the capital.

By car this journey down the northwest coast to Sligo and on to Dublin takes just over five hours, according to Google maps. However, as most residents will not have access to a private vehicle they will have to travel by bus from Moville - Letterkenny - Sligo - Dublin, a journey which will take an estimated nine hours and 15 minutes.

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Asylum seekers must travel to Dublin to attend interviews with the International Protection Office, attend appeal hearings at the International Protection Appeals Tribunal, to renew their temporary residence certificates and on occasion to meet with lawyers and attend medical appointments.

A spokesman for the Department of Justice said the Reception and Integration Agency had arranged with the contractor of the centre in Moville to allow travellers to Dublin to “stop for a comfort/meal break” if necessary on the trip to Dublin.

The former Atlantic Lodge Hotel in Kenmare, Co Kerry is set to re-open to asylum seekers later this month, while another centre opened earlier this year in the King Thomond Hotel in Lisdoonvarna, Co Clare.

The journey from Kenmare to Dublin, via Killarney, by bus takes an estimated six hours while travelling from Lisdoonvarna to Dublin on public transport takes five and a half hours.

Life changing

In a tweet posted on Tuesday, the Irish Refugee Council said the remote locations of the new centres would prevent people from being able to “meaningfully engage with essential services and life changing decisions like asylum interviews”.

The council also cited the findings of the 2015 McMahon report which stated that the remote location of some centres could “act as a barrier to residents’ participation in activities in the area and access to legal, medical and other supports”.

The Inishowen Together group said at the weekend that it was looking forward to extending the “warmest of Inishowen welcomes” to the new arrivals in Moville, adding that they would like to offer “solidarity and whatever support we can usefully provide”.

The group said the Donegal peninsula was “certain to benefit massively from this injection of many new talents, perspectives and experiences” and that it would push immediately for the right of residents to work in the area.

It also expressed concern about the remote location of the town and noted that “Inishowen without a car is a challenge”, adding that the border restrictions would rule out any job opportunities for asylum seekers in Derry.