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Dept of Justice says video of cramped Direct Provision room 'appears to have been staged'

The Depart of Justice said this afternoon that no more than six people are in a room at the East End Hotel centre.
Jan 4th 2020, 10:44 AM 43,721 82

Updated Jan 4th 2020, 4:42 PM

THE DEPARTMENT OF Justice has said that a video clip appearing to show ten beds in one room at a Direct Provision centre has been “appears to have been staged”.  

The video clip was sent to Newstalk reporter Barry Whyte, who claimed that the video is of a room in a centre in Portarlington being used as emergency accommodation for asylum seekers.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said earlier that he was “concerned” at the content of the video clip but in a statement this afternoon the department has said that the video “does not represent the reality at this facility”.

The centre being used as the emergency accommodation facility is the East End Hotel in Portarlington. 

“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 Department of Justice said this afternoon.

The footage circulating appears to have been staged and the residents involved have been asked to return to their allocated rooms.

“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,” the department added. 

“The Department is available at all times to address any concerns that residents have. It should be noted that applicants availing of accommodation services may also avail of the services of the Ombudsman who the department works with to resolve any issues that arise.”

Specifically addressing the number of  international protection applicants in the East End Hotel, the department says that the centre is “providing accommodation for 71 asylum seekers across a total of 19 bedrooms on an emergency basis”. 

“No room being utilised by the department in the hotel has an occupancy greater than six persons,” the department adds.   

In 2018, A Standards Advisory Group drafted national standards for those living in State-provided accommodation, suggesting that a minimum space of 4.65m² for each resident per bedroom is required.

These standards will be legally binding by January 2021. In the interim, contractors will be expected carry out any works required to meet the standards.

Over half of all Direct Provision residents have access to cooking facilities. The aim is to give all residents in commercial centres access to cooking facilities or an onsite food hall by the middle of this year.

After the video was shared yesterday, Fianna Fáil senator Catherine Ardagh said it was “outrageous”. 

“Can’t believe the DOJ responsible here,” she tweeted, “Charlie Flanagan this needs to be shut down.”

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Minister Flanagan said that he was “concerned at the content of this video clip”, and has “sought a report on this matter from the appropriate authorities”. 

There are clear standards in respect of accommodation that should be upheld and complied with at all times. 

There are currently over 6,000 people living in 39 Direct Provision centres around Ireland. Since 25 March 2019, adults receive a weekly allowance of €38.80, and children get €29.80.

- With reporting by Rónán Duffy

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