Refugees Welcome as Direct provision Apartments open in Letterkenny, Donegal

Last night news broke that a contract has been signed for the development of a Direct Provision Centre in Letterkenny, Co Donegal.

350 people, mostly made up of families, will locate in the town around February.

It’s understood supports are being put in place to assist the new residents with details to be confirmed.

In a joint statement, Deputy Thomas Pringle and Senator Eileen Flynn say ” it’s important for the local community to rally around and help make our new neighbors feel welcome.”

They will be housed in former student accommodation on the Port Road made up of 60, two and three bedroom apartments. This approach is an attempt to move people out of Direct provision centres after the lucrative business of direct provision has been mired in controversy and severely criticised by human rights groups ,politicians, and the public .

Over the two decades of direct provision, the system has come to headlines time and again for it’s brutal treatment of asylum seekers with many people spending up to a decade or more trapped in centres on less than thirty euro a week and not allowed work due to draconian bureaucratic rules which leave people in limbo .

The safety and experience of centres has also been consistently raised, with the Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI) saying that Direct Provision poses a risk of sexual violence to individuals.

The Northwest has previously had a surge of racist attacks on hotels proposed for direct provison centres. In 2018 and 2019 hotels in Moville ,Donegal and Roosky in County Leitrim were attacked and set on fire on three separate occasions with no one ever prosecuted despite a Garda station being less than one kilometre away from one of the hotels , Leitrim was earmarked to welcome more than 100 asylum seekers .

Activists and locals organised two counter demos in Rooskey after each attack and sent a clear message to the racists that refugees are welcome in both areas . Activists have said they will mobilise again to deal with any issues of racism against the new residents. that come up in Letterkenny.

At the start of 2020 there were 1,524 people in 37 different locations across the country. At the beginning of March, Junior Justice Minister David Stanton said there were 1,018 people in Direct Provision whose applications to stay in Ireland had been approved.

These people are largely unable to leave due to the housing crisis, Mr Henderson says.

“That situation has changed due to Covid-19 as far as we can see, but the nature of the lockdown makes it difficult for people to leave accommodation or move around.

But people who are leaving Direct Provision face major issues around transition — be that not having the means to pay a rental deposit, not having references which landlords will accept and racial or discriminatory issues.

“Sometimes we do see people who have spent so long in the system that they become institutionalised, without having to face what had become a fairly vicious rental market.”

The accommodation and ancillary needs of persons seeking international protection, who request such services, have up to recently been provided through 39 accommodation centres located throughout the State. Since the introduction of this system, all of the centres have been operated by commercial bodies regardless of whether the sites are in State ownership or private ownership. The commercial operators are responsible for the provision of security at these sites.

Government records, available up until 2017, show that, since the first contracts were signed in 2000, the total bill for the 17 years amounts to €1.1bn, with one family business receiving almost €140m from the State.

Left wing activists and politicians continue to call for the end to this inhumane system. A litany of complaints about health, hygiene, and civil and human rights abuses has cast the system in a dim light, with critics making a comparison with the privatised prison system in America.

This article will be updated regularly

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