Picture: Adrian Butler
CHILDREN as young as 20 days old are among 30 asylum seekers that have been relocated from Dublin to a Limerick city hotel this Thursday, the Leader can reveal.
And there has been a public appeal for the provision of supplies, such as sanitary products.
It is understood that plans were put in place by the Reception Integration Agency around a week ago to relocate the group from Balseskin in Dublin and, possibly, other centres to a hotel in the city.
It is understood that the hotel and RIA have been in talks this Friday morning to resolve the matter.
A spokesperson for RIA said that all 39 dedicated centres for Direct Provision are “at full capacity”.
A spokesperson for the Department of Justice said that, with 6,050 asylum seekers residing in 39 centres nationwide, Ria has issued a nationwide call “seeking bed and board in hotels and guesthouses” on a 12- and 26-week basis for “emergency temporary accommodation”.
Doras Luimni chairperson John Lannon was at the hotel on Thursday night with other concerned members of the public.
Mr Lannon said that they are “very unhappy” with the system whereby international protection applicants (also known as asylum seekers) are asked to stay in hotels across the country “that are inappropriate in terms of accommodation for families who have been fleeing from trauma and displacement, etcetera”.
He said Doras Luimni, a migrants rights charity in Limerick city, and the Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland [Masi] are looking into the matter “to see how we can resolve it”.
A number of supplies were brought to the hotel, including water, nappies, tea and coffee.
“In the meantime, the families who are here are in need of supplies. We are organising to get those supplies and, so far, the public have been really supportive and helpful,” Mr Lannon told the Leader at the hotel on Thursday night.
He said that “no one seems to know” for how long they will be staying at the hotel.
He said there are people with “very specific needs, people who are unsure of what their future is, people who don’t know how long they will be asked to stay here”.
Mr Lannon said that he has spoken with the general manager of the hotel.
“We understand the challenges and the difficulties from the hotel’s point of view, but we also understand and recognise that if there’s a contract in place between the hotel and the Reception Integration Agency, then this is an issue that there is a shared responsibility in, and they need to work it out.”
Green Party councillor Sean Hartigan arrived at the hotel at aroud 9pm after he saw a post on social media about the matter.
“I’d be following Masi and Doras Luimni and issues to do with people in Direct Provision and I have been concerned about it for a long time. When I saw that there was 20 people here in the [hotel] I came out here very quick because I wanted to find out what the situation was,” he told the Leader on Thursday night.
He described it as a “dire situation” for the family of the 20-day-old child.
”It’s their first child, they don’t have any experience of rearing a child, they have no access to a community health nurse, they don’t have good English.”
He added: “I am sure they are being well-looked after in the hotel, but they have other needs that are not being met. I am doing my best to help them out with everybody else that’s concerned.”
He said that he will be making contact with Reception Integration Agency this Friday.
The Limerick Leader sent a number of queries to Ria through the Department of Justice about the matter.
A spokesperson said: “Any premises offered as emergency accommodation are inspected by Ria staff to ensure that the bed and board services requested can be delivered. Ria is working hard to ensure that residents in emergency accommodation are re-accommodated in an accommodation centre as quickly as possible, where a wide variety of supports are already in place.
“The Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) of this Department has a legal duty to protect the identities of persons in the international protection process and must be mindful of the right to privacy of applicants when responding to specific queries. For this reason, the Department cannot confirm the names of the hotels or guesthouses being used. RIA is liaising closely with service providers such as the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection and the HSE to ensure that residents’ needs are always met.”
There are currently 700 people with refugee status who remain in Direct Provision accommodation nationwide.
“Where people with status are still residing in Ria accommodation, every effort is made to assist them in finding suitable mainstream housing as quickly as possible,” the spokesperson said.
He added: “We will continue working to identify additional accommodation centres and work with those people currently residing in accommodation centres who have status / permission to remain to move into mainstream housing. This will free up capacity to ensure that people remain in emergency accommodation for as short a period as possible.”