More than 200 asylum seekers face losing their homes just before Christmas as the company managing their direct provision centre is pulling out.
Residents at the Clondalkin Towers Hotel in west Dublin – the largest direct provision centre in the capital – were told on Friday night it would close on December 3rd.
This is the third direct provision centre in Dublin to close in the last year. In February the Georgian Court centre on Gardiner Street closed, followed by Watergate Hall on Usher’s Quay in July – homes to 80 and 52 people respectively.
A total of 225 people live at Clondalkin Towers, 80 of whom have refugee status but remain there because they have no alternative accommodation.
The 80, including children, face homelessness if they cannot source rented accommodation in the private sector by the end of next month, using the housing assistance payment.
The remaining 145 will likely be dispersed to other direct provision centres around the country.
The Irish Times understands the decision by the property-management company is for commercial reasons.
‘Very bad news’
The development is "very, very bad news" according to Nick Henderson, chief executive of the Irish Refugee Council, who said the timing would cause huge distress to families particularly coming as it does before the end of the school term.
He called for an extension of the closing date to January, to enable children complete the Christmas term.
Eugene Quinn, director of the Jesuit Refugee Service which works with residents in the Clondalkin centre, said he was "devastated" for those affected.
“It is a huge disappointment. We will be continuing the work we do in the centre with the Peter McVerry Trust in helping people access housing, increasing our service there to assist with the inevitable transition issues.”
Clondalkin Towers has operated as a direct provision centre since 2006 and many residents forged strong links with the Clondalkin community.
In a statement the Department of Justice confirmed last night: “The Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) has been informed by the contractors for Clondalkin Towers accommodation centre that they do not intend to renew the contract when it expires on December 3rd, 2018.
“Senior management in RIA are scheduled to meet with the contractors very early next week to discuss this issue. RIA will keep the welfare of all residents at the centre of these discussions. They will then write to each individual resident with updates as and when they happen.
“The contracted capacity of the accommodation centre is 225 persons and it is presently full. This is the only accommodation centre affected by this decision.”