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Clondalkin Towers
Clondalkin Towers

'There had been enormous worry': Direct Provision centre to remain open - and three others get the green light

About 70 residents at the Clondalkin centre have protected status and faced the risk of becoming homeless.
Mar 13th 2019, 8:52 AM 17,897 57

THE DIRECT PROVISION centre in Clondalkin in Dublin is set to remain open for at least another two years.

There had been calls for the planned closure of the centre at Clondalkin Towers, a former hotel, to be postponed on humanitarian grounds as residents struggled to find alternative accommodation, as reported by TheJournal.ie.

There were 235 people, including 78 children, living in the centre as of last month.

About 70 residents already have protected or leave-to-remain status and faced having to find private rented accommodation; this figure includes 19 refugees.

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

The company, Fazyard Ltd, has been paid €27.5 million from the State over an 11-year period for operating the centre.

A tendering process seeking alternative locations for DP centres has now been completed and it has been confirmed that the centre will remain open until at least 2021.

Fazyard Ltd reapplied to run the centre and was successful. The company plans to increase the centre’s capacity from 225 to 250 people.

Kildare and Laois 

Three other centres – two in Co Kildare (Hazel Hotel in Monasterevin and the Eyre Powell in Newbridge) and one in Co Laois (the Montague Hotel in Emo) – are due to be granted two-year contract renewals once mobilisation works to deliver on the proposals have been commenced. A further one-year extension may be added to each contract.

Fazyard Ltd is also behind the proposal for the centre in Co Laois, which has a planned capacity of 202 residents.

Oscar Dawn Ltd is the bidder for the Hazel Hotel proposal, which has a planned capacity of 143 residents. Peachport Ltd is behind the Eyre Powell bid, which has a planned capacity of 125 residents.

The Department of Justice said it is a condition of the tender “that all residents will be able to cook meals of their own choice and that families will have access to designated living areas where they can carry out normal family activities outside of their bedrooms”.

There have been numerous calls for the DP system to be reformed, or scrapped altogether, amid complaints about living conditions and other issues faced by residents. Almost 6,300 asylum seekers are housed in 38 DP centres around the country. 

Better conditions 

David Stanton, Minister of State for Equality, Immigration and Integration, said he was “pleased” that the Clondalkin centre would remain open, stating that “residents will enjoy greater autonomy and independence in the centre” once the proposed changes are made.

“The contract with the Towers Accommodation Centre, as with other centres placed on this framework, will be for a minimum of two years,” Stanton said. 

He added that the department is continuing to roll out its public procurement process on a regional basis throughout the state in 2019.

“As with the competitions for Sligo and Newbridge, it will be a condition of the tender that all residents will be able to cook meals of their own choice and that families will have access to designated living areas where they can carry out normal family activities outside of their bedrooms,” he said.

‘Not the right way’ 

Sinn Féin’s Housing Spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin, who was among those to call for the centre to remain open, has welcomed the news.

“The uncertainty about the centre’s future caused enormous worry and fear for the 250 adults and children. Closure would have resulted in the residents being moved out of Dublin and away from vital educational, medical, social and community supports.

A strong campaign led by the residents and supported by the local community called for the centre to remain in Clondalkin. The men, women and children living in Clondalkin Towers are part of our community.

“Thankfully the contract has been extended and much needed improvements in cooking and recreational facilities are included in the new contract.”

Local independent councillor Francis Timmons said he was “delighted” with the news.

“This news will be a huge relief to the residents living there, many of whom attend local Clondalkin schools and are involved in the local community … They deserve to be treated with dignity and respect,” Timmons said. 

However, Ó Broin added that the uncertainty surrounding the tendering process “highlights why Direct Provision is not the right way to provide those seeking asylum with accommodation”.

A number of organisations such as the Irish Refugee Council and Nasc (the Migrant and Refugee Rights Centre) have also said the current model needs to be scrapped.

A spokesperson for the IRC previously told TheJournal.ie the State needs to “shift to a new way of accommodating people who seek asylum: from a reactive, managed emergency style system delivered by private actors towards a long-term, planned model delivered by non-profit bodies who are experts in housing and supporting vulnerable people”.

The government has paid tens of millions to private companies running DP centres around Ireland. It has also paid over €1.6 million to a private contractor to source emergency accommodation for asylum seekers since September 2018.

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Órla Ryan

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