Knockalisheen Accommodation Centre ‘not upholding human rights’

The Knockalisheen Direct Provision Centre was found by HIQA to not be 'upholding human rights'. Photo: RTÉ

AN ACCOMMODATION centre for asylum seekers just outside Limerick had “significant deficits across all themes of the national standards” according to a newly-released HIQA report.

Knockalisheen Accommodation Centre was found to be non-compliant in 20 out of 27 of the national standards set out by legislation.

The inspection report found that not all staff members were properly Garda vetted, a large number of residents stated that they felt “unhappy” and “unsafe” at the centre, and that tented accommodation could not promote the human rights of residents.

There were 278 residents from 27 different countries living at Knockalisheen at the time of the inspection in January of this year.

52 single men were being accommodated in 13 “military-style” tents at the centre, which were described in the report as being “inappropriate”.

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Inspectors found that the tents didn’t promote, respect or uphold basic human rights for the residents living in them.

Concerns were raised about staff not having any arrangements to check in on residents living in the tents, with little staff knowledge of what happened in this area.

There were further concerns about the residents’ right to privacy, with no private changing spaces available to residents who lived in tents, and no privacy screens in place between each bed.

CEO of Limerick-based migrants rights’ organisation Doras, John Lannon told the Limerick Post that housing people in tents is “not acceptable”.

So we’ve over 1,700 people who haven’t even been provided with accommodation. So, you know, that cannot be a reason for lowering the standards to a level where living in cramped tents where you have to go outside just to get to the toilet or to have a shower becomes in any way acceptable. It’s not,” Mr Lannon said.

It’s not meeting people’s basic needs and it’s not treating people with the dignity and the respect that they deserve,” he said.

Safeguarding practices at the centre needed “significant improvement” the HIQA report stated, with 11 staff members not having appropriate training under the Children First national guidance, while the centre managers did not have any management training.

Inspectors also found that not all staff had been Garda vetted, and there hadn’t been any international police checks for staff members who had lived abroad for six months or more.

Mr Lannon said while this is of concern to Doras, they also have very serious concerns that over 200 emergency accommodation centres are not under HIQA’s mandate for inspection.

So while we have concerns about the standards and about the lack of adequate training in the centres that are being inspected, we’re even more concerned about the ones that are not being inspected,” Mr Lannon said.

“When you see the issues that are being flagged by HIQA in the permanent centres, the ones that have been in operation for many years and that we would expect or hope would be run properly, then it really demonstrates the need to have a proper inspection mechanism right across the board.”