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Video of crowded Direct Provision room not staged, says asylum seeker group

Video footage posted on Twitter appears to show ten beds in one hotel room in Portarlington.

Updated Jan 6th 2020, 8:35 PM

AN ASYLUM SEEKER group has rejected a claim by the Department of Justice (DoJ) that a video appearing to show ten beds in one emergency accommodation hotel room was staged. 

The video posted on Twitter by Newstalk reporter Barry Whyte appears to show an overcrowded hotel room for asylum seekers at the East End Hotel in Portarlington, Co Laois. 

The DoJ said on Saturday that the video clip “appears to have been staged”.

The Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland (MASI), an advocate group for refugees, asylum seekers and migrants, issued a statement last night to reject these comments made by the department. 

The DoJ has been contacted for further comment on this issue by TheJournal.ie

MASI said 19 men had been staying in a different hotel in emergency accommodation in Monaghan before being transferred to the Portarlington hotel last Friday. 

“This is when they were shocked and appalled to find 10 beds in a room with no windows and cupboards to store clothes,” the statement from MASI said. 

“MASI is appalled by the conduct of both the Department of Justice and Equality and the management in the East End Hotel who claimed that the 10 beds in the room were staged by the asylum seekers.” 

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

“Hotel management has informed the Department that last night [Friday], a number of residents moved themselves from their assigned rooms into the room shown in the video,” the DoJ said on Saturday.

In a statement this evening, the Department said officials visited the East End Hotel today and will continue to do so.

“The Department’s intention is to transfer all residents from emergency beds in hotels and guesthouses to dedicated accommodation centres as soon as places become available and a number of former residents of the East End Hotel have already been re-accommodated in the new dedicated Direct Provision Centre in Ennis,” it said. 

“It should be borne in mind that arrangements in hotels such as the East End Hotel are not characteristic of Direct Provision,” it added. 

“Many new centres have own-door accommodation and provide for independent living in spacious accommodation which meets the highest standards.  The Department intends to open further new accommodation centres over the coming months.”

The department says this hotel is housing 71 asylum seekers across a total of 19 bedrooms “on an emergency basis”. 

Fianna Fáil senator Catherine Ardagh tweeted at the weekend calling the situation in the room “outrageous” and saying “this needs to be shut down”. 

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