Asylum seekers back in tents on outskirts of Limerick City

The Knockalisheen Direct Provision Centre with the army tents in the foreground. Photo: RTÉ

LIMERICK-based refugee and migrant rights organisation Doras has expressed concern over the decision to move more than 80 international protection applicants into tents at the Knockalisheen Direct Provision Centre on the outskirts of Limerick City.

“This is disappointing, given Minister Roderick O’Gorman’s assurances in December that tented accommodation would cease to operate. Yet, less than four weeks later, they’re back in operation,” said Doras chief executive John Lannon.

“As a result, it’s very difficult to be optimistic about the government’s response to the need to provide stable and safe accommodation for refugees.

“We’ve seen the tents. They’re cold and damp. People have to go outside to get to the toilets. They certainly don’t meet basic needs and it’s quite unreasonable to put people in such conditions, especially people who have health or other vulnerabilities.

“Knockalisheen doesn’t have the capacity to deal with the additional numbers. There aren’t even enough laundry machines or dryers. This means that every asylum seeker living there is affected by the increased numbers.”

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“In particular, the impact on the physical and mental wellbeing of people in the tents is huge. They are not suitable accommodation at any time but in winter they can become quite unbearable,” the Doras chief executive added.

“When people were moved into the tents at Knockalisheen last September, they were told it would only be for a few weeks, and yet they were still there when the temperatures hit minus five degrees in December.

“We hope we don’t see a repeat of this, and that people are moved to more appropriate accommodation within a matter of days. They also need to be provided with regular information and not left in a state of limbo, not knowing what lies ahead for them.

Anybody identified as being particularly vulnerable needs to be moved out immediately. The use of tented accommodation cannot become a new norm or in any way acceptable as a means of accommodating asylum seekers,” Mr Lannon concluded.