THE company that runs the Mount Trenchard direct provision centre near Foynes spends €120,000 per year on transport, $3,600 on broadband and a further €1,200 on satellite television.
Meanwhile, it receives €23.50 per resident per day from the Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) which oversees the direct provision system.
These were some of the details outlined in a report by an Oireachtas committee that visited the centre in January of this year.
At the time of the visit, Mount Trenchard was home to 43 men from 21 countries.
The services provided to these residents include full meals, a games room, laundry facilities, indoor and outdoor football and two television rooms with Sky Sports in both. Management told the committee that this was necessary as residents from the Indian subcontinent prefer to watch cricket whereas those from Africa prefer football.
However, the residents voiced a number of concerns to the visiting Oireachtas members, including mental health issues, boredom and the difficulty in forming meaningful relationships.
The difficulty of living on just €19 per week was also highlighted by committee chairman, Sinn Fein TD Padraig MacLochlainn.
“While residents have medical cards they must still pay the individual prescription charge and with only getting €19 per week then they can find they are not able to afford the medicines,” he said.
In his report to the houses of the Oireachtas, Mr MacLochlainn concludes that the direct provision system is no longer “fit for purpose”. “Whatever else can be said the one thing that is an indisputable fact, with one in five residents being in the Direct Provision System for seven or more years, is that the Direct Provision System is no longer a short term solution. This and this alone is more than sufficient to justify the statement that the system is not fit for purpose and any argument to the contrary is not credible,” he said.
The report was welcomed by Limerick-based migrant rights group Doras Luimni. Leonie Kerins, the organisation’s direct support manager, said that money could be saved if it was given directly to asylum seekers and they were allowed “to live and work in the community as equals”.
“While working towards this objective, the Government should clearly be contracting the management of these centres to suitably qualified and skilled organisations and individuals, operating on a not-for-profit basis,” she added.