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Asylum seekers forced to wash clothes in sinks at Dublin hotel

Over 1,000 asylum seekers are now living in hotels and B&Bs around Ireland.

Clayton. Clayton Hotel, Liffey Valley Source: GoogleMaps

ASYLUM SEEKERS IN Dublin have been forced to wash their clothes in hotel sinks due to prohibitive laundry costs amid ongoing issues for people living in emergency accommodation in Ireland. 

Since September, the Department of Justice & Equality has accommodated people seeking international protection in Ireland in hotels and B&Bs due to capacity issues in the Direct Provision system. 

Earlier this week, TheJournal.ie reported that international protection applicants at the Clayton Hotel were told not to bring food to their rooms “under any circumstances”.

Due to the expense of cleaning facilities at the hotel, too, residents – who receive €38.80 weekly allowance – have been washing their clothes in hotel sinks and drying them on radiators. 

Cleaning prices charged by the hotel include €3 per t-shirt, €16.50 for washing and drying a shirt and €18.70 for washing and drying a dress.

There are no laundry facilities available for people to wash their clothes. 

Ireland’s 39 Direct Provision centres are currently at capacity as the Department’s Reception & Integration Agency (RIA) continue to contract hotels and B&Bs. 

Normally, laundry facilities are provided in Direct Provision centres. People living in these emergency centres, however, have experienced a continued lack of service provision and cramped conditions. 

Similar laundry issues arose for people living in the Travelodge in Swords, Dublin earlier this year when one family had to wash their clothes in a bathroom sink for six months.

The Movement for Asylum Seekers in Ireland (MASI) has described these hotel policies as “infantilising”.

This week, the owner of the Central Hotel in Miltown Malbay, Co Clare issued a notice to people telling residents “you must be in your room by 10pm. No excuses!”

“A long-term solution and radical change in the way asylum seekers are treated in Ireland is needed urgently,” a Masi spokesperson told TheJournal.ie. “This is not the first time we’ve received a report of a curfew”. 

Since September, the Department has paid almost €9 million to private businesses to accommodate international protection applicants.

There are currently 1,068 international protection applicants – including 177 children – living in emergency accommodation. 

‘Service Provision’

A spokesperson for RIA told TheJournal.ie that it is “endeavouring to move people to [Direct Provision] centres in as short a time as possible”.

RIA recently moved families with children from emergency locations where dedicated laundry facilities were not available to emergency locations with dedicated laundry facilities, they added. 

The Department has confirmed to TheJournal.ie that it also has no role in carrying out inspections of emergency accommodation set-ups nor can it permit visits but said that RIA staff hold clinics where they meet with residents in emergency accommodation to address concerns. 

Hotels and B&Bs used as emergency accommodation are contracted to provide beds and three meals per day.  

“The Department does not control access to private premises and for that reason, we are not in a position to allow a visit in the same way that is possible at RIA [Direct Provision] centres,” the spokesperson said.

“RIA typically contracts a defined number of rooms within existing commercial hotels and guest houses and therefore does not have exclusive use of the premises,” they added.

Before agreeing terms with an emergency accommodation provider, the spokesperson said, a RIA staff member inspects the accommodation “to ensure it is suitable”. 

“During the past twelve months, there has been a rise in the number of applications and this, combined with well-documented difficulties experienced by the RIA in opening new [Direct Provision] centres, has stretched the system to its full capacity.”

Masi has said that the head of RIA has written to the group to organise a meeting which it said “has to takeplace as a matter of urgency” to address issues in Ireland’s Direct Provision system. 

In June 2018, 234 people applied for international protections here compared with 383 people this year.

Earlier this week, Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan published the National Standards Framework for Ireland’s asylum system alongside this year’s spending review for the whole system. 

The cost of Direct Provision, Flanagan said, is expected to top €120 million this year compared with €78 million in 2018.

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