THE Department of Justice is reportedly “forcing” asylum seeker families to make a stark choice — send their children to school on time or go hungry.
Migrant support group NASC Ireland claimed two dozen children, aged between five and 12, are being failed by the state.
They are residents at an accommodation centre in Cork’s Kinsale Road where breakfast is not served until 8am.
According to the independent organisation, children at the site are regularly late for school at St Nicholas, Christ the King and Togher boys and girls schools if they decide to have breakfast.
NASC said the families are not allowed to bring food outside of the canteen and have no other meal option than to wait until food is served — giving them 20 minutes to walk the 30-minute journey to the nearest bus stop on Frankfield Road.
As a result, the migrant group said the children are regularly late for school, and are only able to arrive on time if they skip breakfast.
Also “the policy of requiring the children to travel on city busses puts parents in an impossible financial position”, a NASC spokesperson claimed.
“One mother has to pay out a total of €85 per week to send her three children to school on the bus. She can apply to have the money refunded later.”
The Department of Justice, however, refuted the allegations. A spokesperson insisted it provides the necessary services for people living in the accommodation centre.
“Pre-prepared school lunches — sandwich, fruit, yoghurt, juice and a piece of cheese — are available for collection at 7.15am and breakfast in the centre is available from 7.30am onwards.
“Generally, it should be said residents are free to avail of the recently revised house rules and procedures of the Reception and Integration Agency (RIA).
“Centre management has had no requests, nor any complaints, made to it in connection with this matter. Should any resident wish to raise the issue they are perfectly entitled to do so,” she said.
The spokesperson added that school transport is a matter for the Department of Education and that the RIA’s role is solely to work with that Department to ensure children of asylum seekers are “linked with school transport arrangements in the same fashion as would apply to the general population”.
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