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Upgrade works due to be completed at Direct Provision centre in July still haven't started

Residents in Clondalkin Towers say they have been told that the works may not commence until next year.

Clondalkin Towers
Clondalkin Towers
Image: Asylum Archive

UPGRADE WORKS AT Clondalkin Towers Direct Provision centre have not yet commenced – missing the deadline set down when a new contract to keep the centre open was signed earlier this year.

It was announced in March that the centre in Dublin 22 would remain open for at least another two years, following months of uncertainty.

Residents at the centre said management told them during the week the works may not commence until early next year as they are awaiting the outcome of an ongoing tender for a new centre in the Dublin region. The closing date for this tender is 21 October.

After a meeting on Thursday evening, some residents said they were angry and frustrated by the delay. However, one resident said most people at the centre are “indifferent”, adding: “Where they have waited that long, they don’t mind waiting a few more months.”

Many residents at the centre are employed and so are “busy with their lives”, she added, noting that the changes will make a bigger difference to people who aren’t working.

“We just want to move out of this place to our own house so we can have a normal life,” she said.

Management at the centre said they were not in a position to talk to the media.

In October 2018, residents were informed that the centre would close on 3 December 2018 as the company running the centre was not renewing its contract. However, a deal was later reached to keep the centre open until June 2019.

As part of a tendering process, the company running the centre, Fazyard Ltd, reapplied to run the centre and was successful. Fazyard was paid €27.5 million by the State from 2005 to 2016 for running the centre.

The company runs a number of other DP centres around the country. It was due to operate a new centre in Oughterard in Co Galway before withdrawing its tender earlier this month amid controversy about the facility opening.

As part of the deal signed earlier this year, which will keep the centre open until 2021, upgrade works were meant to be completed by July. However, they have not yet been started.

The works in Clondalkin have been delayed in part because the company is carrying out works on other centres. 

The aim of the upgrade works is to move facilities at the centre towards the Independent Living Model, as recommended by retired High Court Judge Dr Bryan McMahon in his 2015 report into Ireland’s asylum system.

The works include the provision of cooking facilities for residents, a food hall where residents can get ingredients and food items as well as toiletries and household items through a points system, and a designated living space for families outside of the bedrooms.

As of 6 October, 238 people lived in Clondalkin Towers, including 80 children.

Mobilisation works 

When asked about the status of the works by Sinn Féin’s Eoin Ó Broin recently, Minister of State for Equality, Immigration and Integration David Stanton said the owner of the premises “was advised that the 12 week-mobilisation period commenced on 11 April 2019, which required all works to be complete by the 4 July 2019”.

At this point, the premises were due to be inspected by employees from the International Protection Accommodation Service (formerly known as the Reception and Integration Agency).

However, Stanton said the contractor “subsequently advised that they were not in a position to commence mobilisation as they had focused resources on the mobilisation works required at other accommodation centres, which had also been placed on the framework”.

“My department is continuing to engage with the provider to establish a commencement date for the mobilisation works,” Stanton added.

A spokesperson for the Department of Justice told TheJournal.ie that as the centre was already providing services to applicants at the time of the last tender process, “it has taken time to progress necessary infrastructural changes required by the department bearing in mind the need to keep potential disruption for residents to a minimum”.

“The contractor involved is providing services to international protection applicants in a number of centres and a schedule of works is taking place across these centres,” the spokesperson added.

The department recently issued a €65 million tender for new Direct Provision centres. Premises are being sought in Co Kildare, Co Wicklow, Co Meath and Co Louth to provide accommodation and services to international protection applicants under the Independent Living Model.

More than 6,000 people live in DP centres around the country. Many of the facilities are at capacity and over 1,000 asylum seekers currently live in emergency accommodation.

With reporting by Cónal Thomas

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