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'Farmers wouldn't keep cows in this': Complaints over mould, leaks at Dublin Direct Provision centre

The centre accommodated around 50 asylum seekers before it closed last June.
Mar 25th 2019, 12:06 AM 26,311 47

Watergate House Watergate House, a former Direct Provision Centre in Dublin 8 Source: Google Street View

ASYLUM SEEKERS LIVING in a Direct Provision centre in Dublin were accommodated in apartments with apparent leaks, mouldy walls and broken furniture before it closed last year.

Images seen by TheJournal.ie show the conditions faced by residents in some apartments at Watergate House on Usher’s Quay in Dublin 8.

The self-catering centre, which first opened in 2003, accommodated 52 asylum seekers before it closed last June.

That contract was held by Maison Builders Limited, to which the Department of Justice paid more than €1.6 million to operate the centre between 2014 and 2018.

An independent inspection carried out for the Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) in September 2017 found that the majority of the 22 apartments in the centre were in a “satisfactory” condition.

The agency is responsible for the administration of State-provided accommodation for asylum seekers and suspected victims of human trafficking.

As part of its work, the RIA oversees inspections of asylum seeker accommodation, which are carried out by internal inspectors as well as an independent company.

The final report for Watergate House noted that eight of the apartments had some minor issues, including untidy living conditions, loose bathroom lights, and a broken extractor fan.

A previous inspection report from September 2016 shows that one apartment was in need of complete refurbishment, while a report from June 2015 showed that two other apartments were in need of renovation that year.

All refurbishments were completed within a year of the request.

Bucket of water

A complaint to the agency in March 2018, released under the Freedom of Information Act, alleged a number of issues were present at Watergate House.

The complainant, a member of a charity group that assists asylum seekers, described how they were “horrified” at the conditions in living accommodation at the centre.

“It is astonishing that in 2018 in the heart of Dublin, people are expected by the State to live in damp conditions worse than those in which most farmers would not keep their cows,” the individual wrote.

Correspondence described how a bucket was used to gather water from a leaking roof outside one apartment.

Bucket A bucket collects water from a leaking roof outside an apartment at Watergate House last year Source: Department of Justice

The author also claimed that damp conditions were causing mould to grow on the walls of one apartment, and how a broken washing machine led to water leaking onto a kitchen floor.

The complainant alleged that the group they volunteered with had supplied new beds to one resident after slats on their supplied beds broke.

They also told the RIA that the group had to re-tile a bathroom because the existing tiles were falling off a wall due to damp and mould.

Meanwhile, they claim a dehumidifier was used to remove damp from the bathroom, which gathered a litre of fluid every day.

Muld Mould in an apartment at Watergate House in Dublin 8 Source: Department of Justice

“I and my colleagues have been horrified at reports and pictures of the conditions under which the asylum seekers are expected to live,” the complainant continued.

“We did not report it until now because the asylum seekers we met were afraid that their cases would be jeopardised by any complaint.”

No complaints

Within days, a spokesperson for the RIA responded to the complainant to describe how the agency had dealt with issues in two apartments in particular – one accommodating an adult and three children and another accommodating an adult and two children.

They noted that no issues with either apartment were raised in the agency’s inspection report just six months previously.

The spokesman told the complainant that a leak in one apartment was not raised with the manager until he noticed that the kitchen floor was damp, adding that the room was subsequently repainted and its flooring replaced.

Washing machine A washing machine leaks onto the floor of an apartment at Watergate House last year Source: Department of Justice

The spokesman said the leak outside the apartment, where water was being collected in a bucket, followed a period of heavy rain and that it was repaired.

The spokesman also said that the mould inside the same apartment had arisen as a result of dampness caused by condensation.

“The resident has been advised on numerous occasions to open the windows to air the rooms which will prevent condensation,” they said.

The spokesman added that any items of broken furniture and appliances that were broken were replaced on a regular basis by the manager of the accommodation.

‘Raise issues’

In a statement, a spokesman for the Department of Justice confirmed that it had been made aware of some of the issues, including of leaks and mould.

“While the accommodation was under contract to the Department, it was subject to regular inspections,” the spokesman said in a statement to TheJournal.ie

“In addition, residents could raise issues with the centre management at any time.”

The spokesman said that the Department of Justice has had “no involvement” with the centre since its closure in June 2018, but added that residents who were still in the protection process at the time have since been re-accommodated to other RIA centres.

A spokesperson for Maison Building Limited could not be reached for comment following multiple attempts by TheJournal.ie.

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