More than 200 asylum seeking residents at a centre in Athlone are refusing to accept daily food supplies in a dispute over how the centre is operated. The residents of the Lissywollen Athlone Direct Provision Accommodation Centre, along the Athlone bypass, have been refusing to accept new food supplies since yesterday. However, they are not involved in a hunger strike and are using food from alternative sources and supplies that they had built up instead.
Meanwhile, Sinéad O’Shea, of the Irish Times, has seen video footage showing the conditions within the Mount Trenchard Direct Provision Centre in Foynes, Co. Limerick, where 50 male asylum seekers live. She also spoke to some of the centre’s residents.
Readers will recall how some of the residents recently held a protest at the centre, while others went on hunger strike for a time. Three men were removed from the centre to other direct provision centres, with one man telling RTÉ’s Brian O’Connell that he was escorted by armed gardaí.
Ms O’Shea writes:
“The Irish Times has been given video footage of conditions in the centre which shows cramped sleeping conditions and beds separated by curtains.”
“There are six to eight beds in some rooms. One piece of footage shows several windows smashed after one resident lashed out at conditions there.”
“They spoke at length about mental health issues within Mount Trenchard. They say there are a number of men suffering from mental health problems there. Some of these men talk to themselves, they don’t change their clothes “for months”.
“One spends his nights sitting on the ground of the laundry room “pretending to eat and talk” with a woman in French. According to witnesses, these men had been relatively normal when they first arrived.”
Readers may wish to know that there is no independent complaints mechanism in place for asylum seekers. This means that if a resident wants to raise an issue about their security, health or welfare, they have to tell the centre’s management and/or tell the Reception and Integration Agency, which oversees the direct provision system.
Human rights group, Nasc Ireland, has previously stated that many asylees are reluctant to complain because they fear to do so would have a negative affect on their relationship with the Department of Justice.
Previously: ‘We Want To Be Heard By The Irish People’