Mount Trenchard Direct Provision Centre in Co. Limerick – where up to 50 asylum seekers are believed to currently reside
You may recall a post from last Thursday about how three asylum seeker men living in the Mount Trenchard Direct Provision Centre, near Foynes in Limerick, started a hunger strike because of the long delays in the asylum system. They have all been waiting at least ten years for their applications to be processed.
A subsequent post last Friday detailed how representatives of the NGO Doras Luimní helped to negotiate talks between the residents and the owner of the centre. Minutes after the Doras Luimní representatives left – and after a later date for further talks was set – two residents, who were acting as spokespersons for those protesting, were transferred out of the centre by the Reception Integration Agency under Garda supervision, while another asylum seeker reportedly also left.
It’s understood four residents are now on hunger strike.
This morning, Brian O’Connell spoke to Seán O’Rourke about the situation and, during his segment, he played several interviews with those involved.
One of the interviews was with one of the men transferred out of the centre, Patrick, to a direct provision centre in Cork city.
Patrick told Mr O’Connell about what happened after they spoke to management and gave his feelings about the direct provision system.
“Ten minutes later, me and Ahmed, my friend from Sudan, we got transfer letters because we were the ones asked to speak…we were escorted by squad cars, they had guns with them, they were escorting us as if we were terrorists.”
“It’s [the direct provision system] very tough, it’s very tough to be honest. People are being treated inhumanely. The way we sleep in our rooms, sometimes ten people in one room.”
Mr O’Connell also spoke to another resident of the centre, Jamhal, who was also moved to Cork on Thursday. Mr O’Connell explained that it is not yet clear whether Jamhal’s transfer was voluntary or forced.
Speaking to Mr O’Connell:
Jamhal: “We are getting sick, you know, some people are, they harm themselves, some people, they kill themselves cause of this system. Like myself, I hurt myself many time, you know, you can see here.”
Brian O’Connell: “On the right hand side of your hand there are three large scars – that is as a result of…”
Jamhal: “It is a result of the system like. Holding a man for ten years who has all these ambitions and dreams and become all dark and nightmare. It’s like a nightmare, I’m living a nightmare in this system. We want to be heard by the Irish people, just when you protest about something, they just write letter from RIA and then they transfer you to another place. Just to break you and they break me.”
Meanwhile, solicitor John Gerard Cullen, who represents some of the residents in Mount Trenchard, also joined the show.
Mr Cullen told how he witnessed a ‘frightening’ incident at Mount Trenchard yesterday.
John Gerard Cullen: “Yesterday evening I called down to see a number of clients in the hostel and, in the course of one consultation, there was a very repetitive crashing sound and it was dismissed by other persons in the dining room, as simply a person fighting, it would seem, which appears to them to be quite normal. But it continued and then reports came in that somebody had broken the computer in the main hallway and then somebody broke the flat screen television and a gentleman appeared at the door of the dining room with a baseball bat. He battered the counter where food is dispensed and then he proceeded to deal with the windows, it was sort of an annex to a Georgian building and he broke pane after pane, window after window, about four windows at that stage. And then I saw some of the persons removing their cars and I said, well, you know, I really need a windscreen and so forth, so I sort of removed my car. I intended to go back but I was told that it was not really safe to go back by some of my clients who had moved up to the rooms. And I was told that up to 18 windows have been broken since, I think the gardaí eventually arrived and restrained the alleged offender. So that’s just one incident. But it was, he seemed to be, the individual seemed quite disturbed.”
Sean O’Rourke: “Well this would appear, Gerard, to bear out what we’ve been hearing from Brian, just about mental health issue at this centre.”
Cullen: “Yes it would appear that a number of persons suffer from mental health problems and, of course, that impacts very considerably on others at the centre as well because what one describes as the overcrowding and I mean I know, for example, in rooms 1 and 2, that there are apparently 12 beds. Well my instructions date from really June 2014, I was told at that stage that there were 8 persons living in those, in each of those two rooms. And so the persons who are living in those conditions, which lack privacy are obviously exposed to the kind of attacks that I’ve just described. And they told me that they can’t sleep until 3 or 4 o’clock in the morning, and that fighting is going on, and disturbances of one kind or another.”
O’Rourke: “Behaviour of that kind would obviously be very upsetting and frightening for people. What other issues have been brought to your attention at the centre?”
Cullen: “Well I suppose the transport issue is regarded as one of the major problems. Again I’m told that there are two taxis per day, that ferry people to Foynes and back which is about three miles from Mount Trenchard but those taxis can only accommodate four persons at a time so there were, in June, there were 64 persons in the hostel. So they feel themselves marooned and very geographically remote and socially remote. There’s nothing to do. There’s no intellectual stimulation, there’s no training, there’s no work, and there is this exposure to violence.”
Previously: Meanwhile In Limerick