An Independent TD has said he, as well as businesses and community leaders in Caherciveen, Co Kerry, want the Department of Justice to move residents of a direct provision centre where there has been an outbreak of Covid-19 back to “where they brought them from”.
Danny Healy-Rae said he has been asked to approach the department to tell it to move the asylum seekers in the Skellig Star Hotel out of the premises and the town.
“I will contact the Department of Justice to take them back where they brought them from. People in Cahersiveen have enough to contend with besides putting them under this kind of pressure,” the TD said, referring to the Covid-19 outbreak at the facility.
At least four, and possibly as many as seven of those moved there have reportedly now been diagnosed with the virus.
“I have no grudge against the residents,” said Mr Healy-Rae.
“It’s the Department of Justice — their behaviour and dictatorial attitude taking advantage of the coronavirus epidemic to bring them to Caherciveen.
“I want the department to reverse that decision now.”
Jack Fitzpatrick, chairman of the Caherciveen Community and Business Alliance, said he and other community leaders had met with Sinn Féin TD Pa Daly to outline their request and then contacted Mr Healy-Rae and requested that more suitable premises be found.
“People are at terrible risk in the hotel,” said Mr Fitzpatrick. “There are plenty of more suitable premises around the country.
"Basically what we want at this stage, for the sake of the people inside and the people of south Kerry, is we want the place closed down and the residents taken somewhere safe.”
Mr Daly said he has written to Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan, informing him that, in his view, the centre in Caherciveen is “not fit for purpose and the residents should be moved to more appropriate accommodation, as the risk of the spread of Covid-19 is too high there”.
A spokesperson for the Department of Justice said they have not received any request to move the residents.