Oireachtas committee to visit Mosney asylum centre

Members of the Oireachtas Health Committee will visit the Mosney accommodation centre in Co Meath after it emerged more than 150 asylum seekers are being moved from the facility.

The Department of Justice has told residents they are set to be transferred to different hostels across the country as part of a cost-saving exercise.

Some of the foreign nationals are now threatening to go on a hunger strike and to hold other demonstrations ahead of the move next week.

Sean O’Fearghail, chairman of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children, said members of the group would be finding out the motivation behind the controversial decision when they make a visit to the centre in coming weeks.

“It seems that many of the asylum seekers who are to be moved are extremely upset by the proposal and intend to protest against this measure,” the Fianna Fáil TD added.

“They are unhappy that they will be forced to leave a place where some of them have lived for several years and have made their home.

“Initial reports suggest that cost motives are the main factor behind this step but our visit will give committee members the opportunity to try to establish the exact reasoning behind this measure.”

Mr O’Fearghail said the visit – planned before news of the move came to light - would also allow the all-party group to tour and inspect the facility, which was established as an accommodation centre for asylum seekers in 2001.

Many of the 800 residents at the former holiday camp at Laytown have lived there for years.

It was opened as part of the government strategy to cope with spiralling numbers of people entering the State seeking asylum.

The Free Legal Advice Centres have said the decision to transfer residents suggested the Government had not given consideration to the circumstances of each individual.

But the Department of Justice denied claims that the move is contravening the residents’ human rights.

It said only single men and women were being moved and the transfers would have no impact on their legal claims for asylum.

Meanwhile, Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern unveiled a new immigration bill on Friday aimed at streamlining the asylum process.

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