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Dublin: 19°C Thursday 24 June 2021

Four on hunger strike at "extremely volatile" Direct Provision centre

Mount Trenchard is based in Foynes, Co Limerick.

  • Four men on hunger strike at Mount Trenchard
  • Windows smashed last night at the centre
  • Local NGO describes centre as “volatile”
  • It wants centre closed down
  • Call for full investigation
  • No comment yet from Justice Department

Ethnic Minorities Protests FILE: National day of action to end institutional living for asylum seekers. Source: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

FOUR MEN ARE on hunger strike at a Direct Provision centre in Foynes, Co Limerick.

Last week, residents held a protest at the Mount Trenchard centre, saying that they wanted conditions there to be improved.

Mediation was held between the centre’s owners and the residents by local NGO Doras Luimní. Shortly after the protests took place, two of the people who had been protesting were moved to a new centre.

Doras Luimní said it was “appalled” by this decision.

Volatile situation

Karen McHugh of Doras Luimní said she and other staff members are going to Mount Trenchard this afternoon.

“It’s extremely volatile at the moment,” she said.

There are people who have got serious psychological and mental health related issues that we would have concerns about.

Last night, a number of windows were smashed at the centre.

McHugh said there are also incidents of people talking to themselves and incidents of self harm.

Of the broken windows, she said: “We don’t condone that behaviour in any situation but it’s obviously evidence of the frustration as well.”

“You know people are being treated inhumanly”

Today, the residents spoke publicly about the issues they have with both the centre and the Direct Provision system.

Speaking to Sean O’Rourke on RTÉ Radio, where reporter Brian O’Connell broke the story, one resident, ‘Patrick’, who has been in the system for five years, was asked by residents to be one of the people to speak up for them to management.

He said:

It’s very tough, it’s very tough to be honest. You know people are being treated inhumanly. The way we sleep in our rooms – six, sometimes 10 people in one room. Right now the way they are doing things, people who claim asylum now they’re getting papers. Why don’t they deal with the backlog first? People who were here ten years ago . Why keep somebody ten years and then tell them that you’re deporting them? What’s the reason? Is that being human or being inhuman?

He and a man called Ahmed were transferred ten minutes after the meeting with management.

Another man called Jamal, who was recently moved from Mount Trenchard to Cork has been in the system for ten years:

Some people them harm themselves, some people they kill themselves because of this system you know. Like myself I hurt myself many times you know… I’m living a nightmare in the system.

He also said people in Direct Provision “want to be heard by the Irish people”.

A group of seven residents at Mount Trenchard have formed a group called Foynes Asylum Seekers for Change.

Doras Luimní has been in touch with Justice Department. So far it has not had direct contact from a government department about the current issues.

It has arranged for medical advice for the hunger strikers. One of the men is “very weak” and “one is clearly saying he will continue if he has to die”, said McHugh.

They are prepared to speak out for all the people in Direct Provision – it’s not just themselves,” she said.

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“We want it closed down”

Doras Luimní want Mount Trenchard – which is home to adults but not children – closed down and an immediate investigation to take place.

“I don’t think the whole situation of asylum seekers is being taken seriously at all,” said McHugh.

Anybody that is actually going to be physically abrupt or abusive, they obviously have various issues going on, serious mental health issues… [there are] extremes of frustration.

She described Foynes as “one of the most difficult centres in the country”.

Doras Luimní said that several residents said that they have been transferred more than 10 times to centres nationwide “as a result of making legitimate complaints in the past”.

Yesterday was not the first time windows have been smashed in the centre. “For people who have got psychiatric or psychological issues, they need to be in a place where their needs are met,” said McHugh. “Not in a centre where it’s not suitable.”

She described it as “most worrying and disturbing” that the situation so far has not warranted an investigation.

Mount Trenchard is in an isolated rural place, where the nearest town is three to four miles away.

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald’s office has been contacted for a comment.

- Additional reporting Michelle Hennessy

Read: “Appalled”: Two asylum seekers transferred after protests at Direct Provision centre>

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