Direct provision residents in Sligo complain of ‘rat infestation’

Reception and Integration Agency says it is taking complaints ‘very seriously’

Another resident from the Sligo centre says rats first appeared in the centre nearly a year ago. Photograph: Getty Images

Another resident from the Sligo centre says rats first appeared in the centre nearly a year ago. Photograph: Getty Images

 

The Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) is taking “very seriously” complaints by residents at the Globe House direct provision centre in Sligo of a “rat infestation” in the hostel.

Residents have raised fears over health and safety after a man was allegedly bitten by a rat while sleeping in his room. The man, who declined to give his name, says he was bitten by the rodent on his ear during the night in early March.

His injury was confirmed by a local GP, who reported that the man had suffered a “minor abrasion” to his left ear.

The man says he became aware of the rat problem at the centre when he was moved from a room on the first floor to one in the basement. “I saw all the rat traps when I came down to the room. At night I would feel nipping on my toes and when I turned on the lights I noticed there had been rats.

“Half the people here are already traumatised and now there are rats. My mental health can only improve if I leave this place. I’m very scared for my health.”

He says he has suffered nightmares since he was bitten.

The man said management responded to his complaints about the rats by laying rat traps around the room.

Basement rooms

Another resident from the centre, who has lived there for more than two years and also wished to remain anonymous, says rats first appeared in the centre nearly a year ago. He said they disappeared but have returned to the basement rooms in recent months.

“My bed is closer to the toilet and that’s where they come from. I have been nipped several times while I’m sleeping, which is why I now wear three pairs of socks at night.

“It’s scary knowing there are rats, especially because my roommate has been sick by it. At first I didn’t care but it’s been going on for too long. I’m scared for my health.”

The residents say they raised the issue with an inspector who visited the centre earlier this month.

In a statement the Department of Justice said the RIA, which speaks on behalf of the Sligo centre, had “only recently been contacted in relation to this matter”, and has asked management to provide a comprehensive report. “RIA takes complaints like this very seriously, and will ensure that the matter is fully investigated and the issue is resolved.”

Duty of care

The Irish Refugee Council (IRC) called for an immediate inspection of the centre to identify the issues which may have led to rats being in the centre.

“The health and safety of residents must be a priority at all times,” said a spokeswomen for the IRC. “Both the Department of Justice and the management of the centre have a duty of care, and they must do their upmost to ensure the health and safety of all residents. The fact that a person has been bitten is alarming.”

The latest RIA inspection of Globe House was carried out in September 2017. It noted that the social room, corridors, pre-school room, dining area and public toilets were “generally clean”. It described the cleanliness of the kitchenette in the single male building as “adequate”, and described the bathroom/toilet area as “clean and tidy”.

Asked in the report whether the inspector was approached by any residents regarding general issues while at the centre, the answer box was left blank.