Video showing asylum seekers in room with 10 beds ‘appears to have been staged’ - Department

Minister for Justice had expressed concern at footage taken inside former Portarlington hotel

Video footage from inside a former Portarlington hotel housing asylum seekers showing a room with ten beds and no windows “appears to have been staged” the Department of Justice has claimed.

 

Video footage from inside a former Portarlington hotel housing asylum seekers showing a room with ten beds and no windows “appears to have been staged” the Department of Justice has claimed.

Footage taken inside the East End Hotel, Co Laois, which has been contracted to accommodate asylum seekers since May 2019, was circulated on social media on Friday evening.

Several clips of video footage from inside the room showed a row of beds together, a fire alarm which did not appear to be in working order, and a loose electrical wire hanging from the ceiling.

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan said he was “concerned at the content” of the video footage from the accommodation. “I have sought a report on this matter from the appropriate authorities,” he said in a post on Twitter on Friday.

In a statement on Saturday, a spokesman for the Department of Justice said the “footage circulating appears to have been staged”.

“Hotel management has informed the department that last night, a number of residents moved themselves from their assigned rooms into the room shown in the video,” the spokesman said.

The video footage “does not represent the reality” of conditions in the accommodation, and “residents involved have been asked to return to their allocated rooms,” he said.

“Similar claims were made about the accommodation in the hotel last Autumn and subsequent department inspections confirmed that the accommodation arrangements at the hotel had been misrepresented in a staged video at that time,” he added.

Some 71 asylum seekers are living in the East End Hotel in 19 bedrooms on an emergency basis, with no more than six people to a bedroom, a spokesman said.

The department has sought to place asylum seekers in emergency accommodation such as former hotels to alleviate pressure on the direct provision system.

Direct provision, the system of centres accommodating asylum seekers, has been at full capacity in recent months due to an increase in numbers applying for refugee status in Ireland, and difficulties faced by people with asylum status leaving direct provision due to the wider housing crisis.