Lissywollen Direct Provision centre for asylum seekers, Athlone, Co. Westmeath
Political expenses and FOI sleuth Ken Foxe obtained copies of letters of complaints made by asylum seekers living in direct provision centres across Ireland.
The mechanism to allow asylees make formal written complaints about the centres was introduced by the Department of Justice in 2011.
The number of complaints has fallen over the years, however rights groups say this is because the residents of the centres generally have little faith in the system.
In the current edition of Village magazine, Mr Foxe reports there have been complaints about the bullying of a child by a staff member; infestations of vermin; and rooms with no heating, among other complaints.
The centres are not identified in the article.
Mr Foxe reports:
In a centre in the Mid-West, a group of residents wrote about repeated gross invasions of their privacy.
“The manager get in any room and search our private bags and take our stuff”, they wrote.
They explained how CCTV was installed to watch the windows of their room, which were locked so that they would not open more than a centimetre.
The residents also described how they were made to sign in daily and, if they did not, a letter was sent to social welfare officers seeking cuts to the tiny weekly payment of €19 that they receive.
…At the same centre, a disabled asylum-seeker had pleaded to be allowed to share a room with his Afghan friends because he needed help in every “aspect of life”.
“They treat us the way like we are in prison”, he wrote: “They don’t care about your health, your condition, [and] depression and will make your head burst out and become crazy. Our condition is even worse than prisoners because they have some respect inside the jail but we don’t have that at all”.
The complaint was investigated and it was discovered that there were fourteen vacancies at the centre and the request to stay together could easily have been facilitated.
…[Jennifer DeWan of NASC Ireland said]: “The number of complaints has been falling yet we are still hearing about all the same issues. People just don’t see the benefit of complaining – because even when they do, nothing changes. The mechanisms need to be safe for asylum seekers to use and there must be a positive result when they use them.”
Previously: Postcards From Direct Provision