Call for meeting to try save Galway asylum centreSeptember 11, 2012 - 7:30am
By Bernie Ní Fhlatharta
A Galway Senator has called for an urgent meeting with Department of Justice officials in order to save an asylum centre in the city which houses 270 people, and has been ear-marked for closure.
Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh says the situation is urgent, having been informed yesterday evening that 100 of the residents of Lisbrook House (former Ibis Hotel) off the Headford Road have already been told where they are being moved to.
Residents of the centre met with Senator Ó Clochartaigh early yesterday to see if the decision to close the facility be reversed – the senator says the planned closure of the facility is hugely disruptive to family units.
However, subsequent to that meeting, Senator Ó Clochartaigh was again contacted by residents who told him that up to 100 of them have been informed of where they are being moved to, and he is calling for urgent talks on the matter.
Residents, many of them family units mostly from African countries and some from the Middle East, were informed by the Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) just last week that the centre was to be closed down and that they were to be moved to other centres.
The number of refugees nationally has dropped in recent years – from 5,423 at the start of 2011 to 4,989 currently - and subsequently some centres are being closed. Senator Ó Clochartaigh said it was heartbreaking to hear some of the stories from the asylum seekers of Lisbrook House yesterday.
“Many of them are family units. They have integrated locally and their children are going to local schools. They cannot work but many of them do voluntary work.
“The single men are being transferred to the Great Western Hostel in Frenchville Lane near Ceannt Station, but seemingly there is no room in any of the other centres in Galway for the families. Most of the residents have been living there over four years.”
Senator Ó Clochartaigh said he would make representations to the Department of Justice to postpone the decision to give more time to assess the implications for the residents.
He said he was also hoping to organise a meeting with the other Galway TDs and to investigate the possibility of holding a public support rally in the city on Saturday.
The Irish Refugee Council said that the sudden closure of Lisbrook House illustrated the unsuitability of Direct Provision for families. The accommodation at Lisbrook is run by private contractors who offer full board.
Read more in today’s Connacht Sentinel