Residents of a direct provision centre who went on hunger strike over their living conditions will be moved to other accommodation.
And the controversial Skellig Star Hotel in Caherciveen where they have been housed is to close as a direct provision centre.
Some 32 residents went on hunger strike on Monday. They decided to take the drastic action because of ongoing problems at the venue, including allegations of food and water rationing, which management denies.
Helen McEntee, the justice minister, has now announced they will all be found alternative accommodation. However, while some will start moving in days, it could be months before all 41 residents are found somewhere else to stay.
Since the centre opened in March, it has been beset with a string of controversies. The latest emerged yesterday from a series of Freedom of Information documents. They revealed that basic hygiene measures were not being adhered to, more than a month after residents started showing symptoms of Covid-19.
Addressing the Seanad yesterday, Ms McEntee said: “When a group of people feel they need to put their health at risk by refusing food, I am, of course, required to listen to their grievances.
“I am aware a number of residents have made applications for transfer from Caherciveen to alternative accommodation. The centre in Caherciveen was opened as emergency accommodation at the outset of the pandemic.
"Our policy is always to withdraw from emergency accommodation as quickly as possible and, in particular, to ensure that families spend as short a period as possible in such accommodation. My officials will be implementing that policy in relation to Caherciveen.”
She added: “Places for the first families are currently being identified and moves for them will be completed by the end of next week. Other residents in the centre will be moved to permanent accommodation as soon as spaces can be found. This process will be completed in a relatively short period of time, and no more than a few months.”
One resident, Azwar Fuard, said: “We feel good about the news, and we are very grateful to the people of Caherciveen who supported us. This should have happened some time ago but at least it is now happening.
“We feel very happy and we believe the Government will keep its word. We don’t yet know when we will all be gone from here. And we don’t know where we will be going. But at least this time we hope they will do it properly and not repeat the mistakes of the past.”