Mount Trenchard Accommodation Centre, due to depression a resident took his aggression out of the building. Mount Trenchard is a direct provision centre designed to turn perfectly healthy people into mental patients by keeping them here for years in isolation.
The Ombudsman Peter Tyndall said he has has received 97 complaints from asylum seekers living in Direct Provision since April 3 last year when his office began accepting such complaints.
Ombudsman staff visited DP centres across the country and many of the complaints were “solved on the spot”.
Mr Tyndall writes:
Many of the complaints we get have been about food, both food quality and the way it is prepared or presented. There have also been complaints about the attitude of centre canteen staff, particularly where residents have specific dietary needs or ask for more food, the opening hours of canteens and the lack or absence of self-cooking facilities at many centres.
Direct Provision centres are run on the basis of contracts agreed between the centres and the Reception And Intergration Agency (RIA) which do not require centres to provide childcare facilities, such as crèches or play areas. However, what we have seen is that some centres, either through the involvement of local groups or particularly proactive centre management, do provide crèches and play areas while not being specifically obliged to do so under their contracts.
This means that the facilities available to residents can vary from centre to centre, much to the frustration of the residents of centres at which the facilities are not provided. While I fully understand the residents’ frustration, I can equally understand the position of a centre which fully complies with its contractual obligations.
We have found that some of these complaints can have a cultural or communication dimension. For example, we got a complaint from a resident who was deeply reluctant to ask for more food as doing so would be regarded as begging in her culture.
Centre staff were unaware that the woman was not getting enough food, or of her reasons for not asking for more. We agreed with the centre that, when serving her food, staff would proactively ask her if she wanted more which would mean she would get enough food without her having to face the cultural difficulty of asking for more.
Complaints about staff rudeness or inappropriate communication can often be challenging to seek to resolve. Some have arisen over cultural differences between staff and residents over what is regarded as shouting by one person and normal assertive communication by another.
Other complaints have been about once-off verbal altercations where there were neither witnesses nor contemporary records that would assist with objective examination of
the complaints. Sometimes it can be a case of a centre manager reminding a staff member just to be aware of a resident’s particular cultural background when dealing with them.
Complaints against Reception And Intergration Agency (RIA)
My staff have dealt with complaints about refusal of transfer requests for reasons other than centre capacity. RIA has told my staff that its policy is to keep families together and to accommodate people close to education and training opportunities where practicable. We have dealt with a number of complaints where requests for transfers to improve access to medical treatment, to reunite with family, or to avail of education or training opportunities have been refused.
RIA’s position on these cases is that the residents have not demonstrated that there were exceptional circumstances in their situations that would justify a transfer. In a number of cases we have accepted that transfers were not necessary as appropriate medical services or access to training and education opportunities were available locally. In other cases we were satisfied that the residents had made reasonable cases to justify a transfer and got RIA to agree to overturn its initial refusal of their requests.
Fear of complaint persecution
Many residents have told my staff that they were reluctant to complain about issues at their centres for fearof being singled out as troublemakers or persecuted in some other way for having complained. Similar fears were expressed about complaining to RIA, including a perception that complaining could lead to a person being involuntarily transferred to another centre.
…While my staff did not see any evidence of such persecution, the issue remains a matter of concern for some residents. However, my staff have reported that the frequency of residents expressing this fear of persecution seems to have declined as our programme of visiting all the centres has continued. Perhaps residents are becoming more assured on this point and therefore feel more confident in making complaints.
In conclusion, Mr Tyndall writes:
Following up on our centre visits by issuing a communal response to residents on communal issues is an adaptation we intend to continue. We also intend to undertake a series of follow-up visits to centres, focussing on those at which the greatest number of complaints or issues have come to our attention. As we will again be a physical presence in the centres, this will allow us to see first-hand what impact implementation of the Supreme Court decision giving asylum seekers the right to work will have on people in Direct Provision.
This event is open to people from all backgrounds that wish to bring a dish to share with fellow diners. New immigrants, Persons in direct provision, settled communities and natives of Kilkenny are invited to share a celebration of food, dancing and fun. Share stories, cultures and generally have a good time with friends old and new.
A group of Trinity students are starting a campaign to boycott the Aramark company,which is the College-appointed food caterer for Westland Eats in the Hamilton building, due to its connection to direct provision centres.
The campaign is using the slogan “Aramark off our campus” and will officially launch on November 15 in the Robert Emmet theatre. Ellie Kisyombe from Our Table and,Lloyd Sibanda a Bachelor of Arts student in Dublin University College and a resident of the Eyre Powell Hotel Direct Provision Centre in Newbridge will speak at the event. Lassane Ouedraogo the Chair of the Africa Centre will also speak on the night.
The campaign hopes to secure a company without connections to direct provision centres to work in Trinity instead. Trinity currently has a contract with Aramark until 2019, with an option to extend it until 2021. The campaign were denied a Freedom of Information request for the value of the contract between Trinity and Aramark.
It is with a heavy heart that unfortunately we have to postpone our End Of Summer Vibe/One Love Concert scheduled for this Sunday, September 10 in the open air Ballykeeffe Amphitheatre in Kilkenny.
The reason that I decided to pull the plug was based on two factors. The first and most importantly was the weather. It’s 95% forecast of rain and also to be cold. This is not at all conducive to the vibe we want to generate.
Although there is so much good will for the event ticket sales have not being forthcoming. So the reasoning behind this is that people have decided to see what the weather is like on Sunday.
As we have so much good people giving their time and talents for little or no monetary gain we have taken the tough decision to postpone until early summer 2018.
The residents in Direct Provision Centres in The South East at Waterford and Tramore are disappointed that the concert will not go ahead but are happy that something will be organised in 2018.
This will give us more time to highlight the plight of people in Direct Provision and hopefully this time next year Direct Provision will be dealt with for the betterment of everyone.
In the meantime please support the initative of Kilkenny Solidarity Dinners who have being doing fantastic work in organising some great afternoons with our brothers and sisters in Direct Provision.
Promoter Stephen Garland who was also to benefit from this event has got some good news. He will now go to Russia for his much needed surgery this November. So for anyone who wants to sponsor Stephen please do so by visiting his website
We have got so much support locally and nationally with this event. In order to do it justice we will look forward and move forward together for making OneLoveKK 2018 a reality.
Thanks to the following for their support and goodwill.
All the Crew at Ballykeeffe Amphitheatre, Martin Leahy for designing poster. Perfecto Print Kilkenny, Rollercoaster Records Kilkenny, The Book Centre Kilkenny, KCLR fm, The Kilkenny People, The Kilkenny Reporter, The Kilkenny Journal, Lucky Khambule MASI (Movement of Asylum Seekers Ireland), Broadsheet.ie, Residents in Direct Provision Centres in Waterford and Tramore. Oliva Lyng, Gareth Hanlon, Sandrine Dunlop, Geraldine Fahy, Emmanuel & Nic at Kilkennny Solidarity Dinners and for everyone else who i’ve missed who has got behind this event and will get behind it again in 2018.
The Government does not know the cause of death of the majority of the asylum seekers who have died in State care in the last 10 years.
“While two people are recorded as dying as a result of suicide and one resident was stabbed to death, the “suspected cause of death” of over one third of the people who have died while resident in the direct provision accommodation system is unknown.
In response to a Freedom of Information request from The Irish Catholic, the Department of Justice released figures which show that 44 people have died in the direct provision system between 2007 and 2017, including three stillborn babies and one “neonatal death”.
In 15 of the cases the Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) record the suspected cause of death as “unknown” or simply “died”.
Among those listed as unknown was a 41-year-old man who was “found in room by roommate” in 2008, a 53-year-old man who was “found dead in his bed at 9am” by his roommate in 2012, a 35-year-old man “found unconscious in room and died in hospital” in 2014 and another man in 2015 “found unconscious in room and died in hospital”.