AN asylum seeker centre where standards were severely criticised by Oireachtas committee members last week had recently received a ‘Q’ mark for quality from a private inspection firm.
The St Patrick’s Accommodation Centre, on the outskirts of Monaghan Town and home to 200 asylum seekers, was criticised for providing substandard accommodation by members of the Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children.
Committee member Cork Labour TD Kathleen Lynch said: “At the centre, we saw families with three children and another on the way living in what you would consider to be one small average bedroom. One small window badly ventilated, just awful.”
The committee delegation also visited the asylum seeker accommodation centre in Mosney, Co Meath. Both centres are run by private contractors but funded on an equal per resident basis by the Department of Justice’s Reception and Integration Agency (RIA).
Ms Lynch said; “We are paying huge amounts of money every year for these centres and in the circumstances we find ourselves in now it is about value for money, yet the centre in Mosney is of just a totally different standard to that of the centre in Monaghan.”
She added; “The predominate compliant in Monaghan was the level of accommodation, in Mosney it didn’t feature at all. The difference between the two centres was very difficult to describe it was so enormous.”
To highlight what they claim is an unfair asylum system and unacceptable accommodation residents at the Monaghan facility have created the St Patrick’s Resident Committee, which has outlined the residents’ concerns in a letter.
A Department of Justice spokesman said: “There is no standard type of accommodation within the RIA portfolio. Some are former hotels, former hostels, purpose-built centres and, in the case of Mosney and Monaghan respectively, a former holiday camp and agricultural college.”
He added: “All centres are inspected regularly, and at least once a year by a private consulting firm, to ensure standards are met. Where standards fall down the contractor is obliged to raise them. It might be noted that the Monaghan centre was recently awarded the ‘Q’ mark for quality of services.”
Sinn Féin Monaghan councillor Brian McKenna has called for councillors to be granted a fact-finding visit to the St Patrick’s Centre. However, requests from Monaghan County Council for a delegation to visit the centre have so far been refused.
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