State is failing asylum seekers, finds committee

THE state is not adequately providing for aspects of asylum seeker welfare, according to the Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children, whose members visited two controversial direct provision centres yesterday.

Particular concern was expressed about the failure of the Department of Justice’s Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) to adequately consult with medical professionals over the proposed transfer of over 100 asylum seekers from the Mosney centre in Meath to a centre in Dublin earlier this month.

Committee chairman Sean O’Fearghail said visits to the Mosney centre and St Patrick’s in Co Monaghan had been ” a real eye opener”.

“We discovered that some accommodation arrangements, particularly at the Mosney centre, while not luxurious, are quite satisfactory, but that standards elsewhere are certainly not up to this level,” he said.

At Mosney the committee members heard serious concerns from medical staff about the decision to move some residents from the facility. They expressed strong views that some of those set to be transferred may not be medically fit to do so.

Mr O’Fearghail said; “One of the constant issues raised by residents was the inordinate length of time it takes to have asylum applications processed. We learnt how this delay and uncertainty can cause serious mental health problems.”

On July 8, the Irish Examiner reported that it had been confirmed to the Irish Refugee Council that despite representations from medical professionals to the RIA, they had not been consulted prior to the attempted transfer of Mosney residents, including some recovering from TB.

At the St Patrick’s centre the delegation was met by a 50-strong protest by residents complaining about their conditions.

Among a five-person group nominated to meet the delegation was Guyanan Caesar Carlos, 33, who has been in Ireland five years.

Mr Carlos showed members of the delegation to his small room which he shares with his pregnant wife and two young children.

“After seeing my room they told the centre manager it was not right that a family should have to live in such conditions. They said they would bring information on our conditions to the Dáil.”

Mr Carlos said he was “satisfied with the visit” and hoped the delegation would carry through on a commitment to highlight the unsatisfactory conditions.

The delegation also met representatives of advocacy group Residents Against Racism, who expressed concern over government policy towards asylum seekers.

The direct provision system was introduced in 2001 as an emergency measure to provide for the maintenance of asylum seekers for six months.

Some 6,000 are maintained by the system, some waiting up to five years for a final judgement on their asylum application.


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