The "open letter from ... Charlie Flanagan to the people of Kerry ... to apologise and to explain...” events around a direct provision centre in Cahirciveen may be unprecedented.
However, it does, in the most ironic but clear way, underline how failure, low standards, and an indifference to probity are institutionalised in the system of direct provision we offer asylum seekers.
That, in a four-page letter, Mr Flanagan did not extend his apology to those “seeking international protection” may reveal the mindset behind this ongoing scandal. Whether that mindset is Mr Flanagan’s or his officials’ is immaterial: It does not reflect this society’s position.
Like everything else, this sorry saga unfolded in the shadow of Covid-19. Fear of infection was behind the need to move almost 100 people to the Skellig Star hotel. That move is also layered with irony. Strangers had to share bedrooms,social distancing was not observed.
That they found themselves in this position after a cursory inspection of the premises adds to the whiff. That it was delivered without consultation with the community exacerbates this further.
The Cahirciveen situation must not be repeated. Though it may be unfair to underestimate the difficulties in providing these facilities, it is fair to point out that despite decades ofexperience the Department of Justice has shown itself to be unequal to the task.
It is time to relieve it of the burden.