Armed gardaí intervene in asylum row

Mount Trenchard direct provision centre, Foynes
Mount Trenchard direct provision centre, Foynes
Mount Trenchard direct provision centre, Foynes

 MIGRANT rights organisation Doras Luimní has called for Mount Trenchard direct provision centre in Foynes to be closed and is seeking an immediate investigation after three of its residents who were involved in a protest were taken away by armed Gardaí.

The call is now being supported by the Irish Refugee Council (IRC), which says it echoes the Limerick organisation’s concerns.

A group of four men at Mount Trenchard began a hunger strike last week to highlight the plight of asylum seekers living in the direct provision system, The situation escalated at the weekend, resulting in the removal of one resident who was on hunger strike since Wednesday, August 13.

Doras Luimní had mediated an agreement between the owner of Mount Trenchard and the residents following a protest last week, and a number of actions were agreed by all parties.

However, shortly after the departure of Doras Luimní representatives, an armed Garda response unit arrived and transferred three residents to other centres in Cork and Limerick city.

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The decision to transfer the residents was taken by officials from the Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) in the Department of Justice.

Doras Luimní says the residents were not given any notice and that they feel that they are being targeted “because they spoke out about their treatment and the conditions in which they live”.

A Doras Luimní spokesperson said it is “shocked and seriously concerned by this action by RIA which is an infringement on the basic civil and human rights of these asylum seekers”.

IRC chief executive Sue Conlan said that the RIA “used Mount Trenchard as a ‘centre of last resort’ for single men with severe mental health problems, or who display disruptive behaviour”.

A spokesperson from the Department of Justice said the RIA is working with Mount Trenchard management “to address concerns that have been raised by a number of the residents there with a view to resolving the issue at local level”.

Regarding the transfer of the three men, the spokesperson said: “RIA makes decisions on transfers in the light of the information available to it and in the interests of the residents and staff.”

The Limerick Post contacted the owners of Mount Trenchard for comment but had not received a reply at the time of going to press.

Lengthy delays in processing applications for refugee status mean that some asylum seekers spend up to 14 years waiting for a decision, all the while living in a direct provision centre such as Mount Trenchard; they also receive an allowance of €19.10 per week.

A group of seven residents have formed a group called Foynes Asylum Seekers For Change (FASFC). Along with Doras Luimní, they will hold a peaceful call for change of the direct provision system this Friday August 22 at 2pm, at Bedford Row and the corner of O’Connell Street.