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Direct Provision centre shut over 'safety fears' was paid €12.7 million by the State

Repeated requests for essential maintenance to be carried out had been ignored by the centre, according to the government.

A DIRECT PROVISION centre that has been closed due to an alleged failure to meet basic health and safety standards was paid more than €12.7 million by the Government since 2001.

The contract for the provision of accommodation for asylum seekers at Westbourne Holiday Hostel in Limerick was terminated by the Department of Justice after claims that management had failed to ensure the health and safety of residents.

Repeated requests for essential maintenance to be carried out had been ignored by the centre, according to the Department.

The contract for the provision of accommodation at the Limerick hostel was held by Westbourne Holiday Hostel Limited, which has received more than €12.7 million under contracts awarded by the State.

Records released by the Department of Justice show that eight contracts for the provision of accommodation at the centre have run consecutively almost uninterrupted from June 2001 until June 2014.

The value of these contracts varied from €544,320 to €3,095,820, totalling €12,741,279. Information relating to contracts awarded after 2014 has not been released by the Department due to reasons of commercial sensitivity.

The official capacity of the centre has ranged from 90 to 105 during the 13-year period. There were 64 residents at the hostel this week, who will be transferred to other accommodation centres.

A statement from the Department of Justice said: “The Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) has invoked the termination clause of the contract with Westbourne Holiday Hostel Ltd at Westbourne Accommodation Centre, Dock Road, Limerick.

Despite repeated requests to the contractor from last autumn, a schedule of works to address essential maintenance and to ensure the health and safety of those resident in the centre has not been forthcoming.

The company is owned by Kenny Commercial Holdings Ltd – a subsidiary of Kenny Investment Holdings, which entered Nama as a going concern on 16 December 2010.

Last July, Westbourne’s borrowings of €1.37 million were sold by Nama to OCM EmRu Debtco DAC, which is a subsidiary of Oaktree Capital Management Ltd – a so-called vulture capital fund company.

A report of the Comptroller and Auditor General last year revealed that the State had paid a total of €251 million between to contractors for the provision of accommodation for asylum seekers between 2010 and 2015.

There are currently 31 Direct Provision centres located in 16 counties, according to the RIA. Seven of these are state-owned, while others are run by private companies under contract with the Department of Justice.

Read: Direct Provision centre in Limerick shuts over ‘health and safety fears’

Read: When Syria comes to Roscommon: ‘We can’t run to Mass, then say ‘you’re not welcome”

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Darragh McDonagh

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