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Closure of asylum seekers' centre shows "disregard" for rights

The number of asylum seekers is dropping, so Direct Provision accommodation centres are being consolidated in Ireland.

The centre is located in the former Ibis Hotel on the Headford Road in Galway
The centre is located in the former Ibis Hotel on the Headford Road in Galway
Image: Google Street View

THE CLOSURE OF an accommodation centre for people in Direct Provision in Galway “illustrates the unsuitability of Direct Provision for families”, the Irish Refugee Council has said.

The closure of Lisbrook House accommodation centre was decided by the Reception and Integration Agency (RIA). The IRC said the decision comes just at the start of a new school year and “will severely disrupt the lives of up to 300 families and school children, some of whom have been living in the community for up to four years”.

Sue Conlan, CEO of the Irish Refugee Council, said:

There is a real need for the Department of Justice, which oversees these centres, to ensure that those who have been living in them for several years, are accommodated within the local area to ensure as little disruption as possible.  It is the same Department which is responsible for decisions on whether these people can ultimately stay in the country, decisions that are taking years without any sustainable explanation for the delay.

She said the decision is “indicative of the disregard for family and children rights that is rife throughout the operation of the Direct Provision system”.

Conlan added:

The need to reduce capacity because of a drop in the numbers seeking asylum does not negate the obligation to treat these people with dignity and respect.

The IRC has been calling for a review of the system for accommodating asylum seekers for many years. Direct Provision was established in 2000 as a temporary solution to housing asylum seekers.

Consolidation

The Department of Justice said the closure of Lisbrook is “just part of an ongoing programme of consolidation of Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) accommodation”.

At the start of 2011, RIA was accommodating 5,423 persons, and by 26 August, 2012 this had reduced to 4,989 persons, a decline of 434 persons (8 per cent).

The decline in 2012 is part of a continuing trend and in the period 2009 to date, RIA has reduced its accommodation portfolio from 60 centres to 37 to address this. While the closure of a centre is difficult for residents and staff at those centres, RIA must adjust its portfolio of accommodation to reflect the demand for that accommodation in line with budgetary and efficiency commitments.

RIA has been engaging with the State service providers linked to the Lisbrook centre in order to assist in the management of the closure.

The Department said that RIA “will continue to engage with all State service providers in respect of the transition of the current Lisbrook residents to alternative accommodation across the portfolio of direct provision accommodation”.

The operations unit at RIA is “working to transfer residents to their new location as soon as possible and intends to have all residents relocated by end October, 2012 at the latest”.

While a number of single males will be transferred to alternative accommodation in Galway city, many of the families will have to be relocated to alternative accommodation elsewhere in the State as there is insufficient accommodation to retain them in Galway city, said the department.

PHOTOS: Intimate images from asylum seekers’ lives in Ireland>

Read: Reforms in asylum process “not a cure-all”>

Interviews: ‘I love the food’ – first-hand stories from asylum seekers in Ireland>

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