Owners of Cork centre agree to meet asylum seekers over concerns

Some 50 residents protest over conditions at Millstreet centre

The owners of an asylum-seeker centre in Millstreet in north Cork have agreed to meet with residents to try to resolve a series of issues following a protest yesterday by more than 50 asylum seekers angry at their living conditions.

Thomas Duggan of Millstreet Equestrian Services which runs the Millstreet accommodation centre at Drishane for the Reception and Integration Agency (RIA), agreed to meet with residents today following yesterday's protest.

About 50 or so of the 230 residents, who are overwhelmingly from sub-Saharan Africa, staged a protest to complain about their accommodation and the provision of services.

Among the issues they highlighted was a recent decision by management to stop children playing in the corridors unless accompanied by an adult.

Aside from the lack of play facilities, other issues raised by the asylum seekers, some of whom have been in Drishane up to nine years and have young families, included concerns over food with some claiming that baby food close to expiry was being served.

Several women also expressed anger over their accommodation with many saying that often a parent and three children have to share one small room while there were insufficient toilet facilities.

Gardaí were called at one point yesterday and following discussions with residents, a number of people were selected to represent the residents and a meeting was held with Mr Duggan who agreed to meet with representatives again today to address their concerns.

Insp Tony Sugrue of Kanturk Garda station confirmed that gardaí in Millstreet will also hold a monthly clinic in the centre to address issues that require Garda assistance .

Mr Duggan could not be contacted for comment following the initial meeting but the Department of Justice confirmed in a statement that the RIA’s core aims included the maintenance and improvement of standards in centres under contract. “Any diminution in standards which comes to its attention is treated very seriously by RIA, and proprietors are immediately required to make any changes and improvements deemed necessary,” the department said in its statement.