Asylum seekers

  • Campaigners are welcoming revised plans for a direct-provision centre in Co Leitrim.

    Round-the-clock protests were held recently against a proposal to house up to 130 asylum-seekers in Ballinamore this month. 

    The Immigration Minister David Stanton now says just 27 people will be accommodated in apartments in the town before Christmas.

  • A silent, 24.7 vigil is continuing outside the Achill Head Hotel in Keel where asylum seekers are due to be housed in emergency accommodation.

    News of the hotel becoming an emergency accommodation centre for asylum seekers came as a surprise to islanders on Achill last month, after it emerged that the Department of Justice had entered into a contract with the hotel owner and that asylum seekers would be in place at the hotel within days.

    However, three weeks later no asylum seekers have yet arrived in Achill and a 24.7 silent vigil is continuing outside the hotel.

    Achill Says Welcomeis a local voluntary group that has recently formed to ensure that asylum seekers are aware that there is a welcome for them and everyone on Achill Island, despite many people’s opposition to the direct provision system for asylum seekers and refugees.

    Colm Cafferkey is one of the main organisers of the group, who met again yesterday and he’s been telling Midwest News more about why Achill Says Welcome was formed.

     

  • The Archbishop of Tuam's says the state needs to be fully transparant with locals over plans to house asylum seekers on Achill in Co. Mayo.

     

    Michael Neary's comments follow protests on the island last week over reported plans to house asylum seekers at a hotel there.

     

    However, the Archbishop also says Christians have a responsibility to share with those who are less fortunate than themselves.

     

    He says it's well known, nationally and internationally, that Achill people are a welcoming people and added that we should be alert to those who are experiencing serious upheaval and a crisis of hope in their lives.

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    Councillor Paul McNamara has sought a meeting today with officials from the dept of Justice to voice local concerns on Achill Island and to seek further clarity on the dept’s plan to house 38 asylum seekers at the Achill Head Hotel in Keel.

    20 asylum seekers are due to arrive at the hotel tomorrow (Wednesday) with a further 18 asylum seekers to arrive next week. They are all men.

    Minister Michael Ring has expressed his fury over the lack of engagement with local people on the island over plans for an emergency Direct provision centre in Keel.

    At the weekend, according to  the Sunday Times, Minister Ring was critical of the approach of the dept of Justice. He is quoted as saying “you cannot just bring people in with nothing in place for them. You need to give the community information about what is involved and put in place the necessary services.”

    The paper reported that Minister Ring conveyed his anger to both Minister Charlie Flanagan and David Stanton that news of the development was “everywhere” last Wednesday before he had any information on the plan.

    Minister Ring told Midwest News today that he did not speak to the Sunday Times and has no comment to make on the matter.

     

     

     

  • The response from the Dept of Justice to Midwest News query this evening as to whether or not  Achill Head Hotel in Keel is to house up to 70 migrants from tomorrow (Thurs), as generally rumoured today.

    In early September 2018, demand for accommodation exceeded the number of bed spaces available in our accommodation centres. As demand continued to rise, the Department sought expressions of interest for emergency temporary accommodation which was advertised in the national media in January of this year. 

     It should be noted that there are currently 36 emergency accommodation locations all over the country.  These emergency centres are temporary and short term in nature pending the opening of new centres. Emergency accommodation is provided through hotels and guest houses. To protect the identification and privacy of applicants and other guests, we do not publicly identify these premises. 

     All State service providers are notified once an applicant is given accommodation - as applicants are provided with a suite of State services while their claim is being legally examined.

     Midwest News has asked for the direct question to be answered and asked the dept for further clarification this evening.

     

     

     

     

  • The Department of Justice has postponed plans to accommodate asylum-seekers in Achill.

    In a statement to Midwest News in the past half an hour, the Department said it had hoped to transfer 13 vulnerable women to the Achill Head Hotel for emergency short-term accommodation, for a maximum stay of 3 months.

    However, due to the ongoing protest outside the hotel, the Department says asking the women to move there would not be in their best interests.

    The statement explains that officials from the Dept of Justice have been engaging with public representatives in the area since last week, and met last night with elected and community representatives in Achill where they discussed local concerns.

    The Department says it's disappointed at the continuing protest, but says it will continue to engage in an effort to resolve the situation.

  • As the silent vigil outside the Achill Head Hotel in Keel is continuing, there is as yet, no news on an arrival date for asylum seekers to the facility where the Dept of Justice plans to set up an emergency accommodation centre.

    The dept of Justice has told Midwest News that its officials have been “engaging with public representatives from the area” about the planned facility. 

    The vigil outside the Achill Head Hotel has now been continuing 24.7 since the end of last month (Oct), and so Midwest news contacted the dept of Justice about its plans and asked to speak to the Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan about the situation, but we were told Minister Flanagan was not available.

    Midwest News asked if dept officials were engaging with the community in Achill, as had been promised by Minister Flanagan at the end of last month, when the arrival of the first group of asylum seekers to the hotel was postponed.

    In response the Department of Justice said it had hoped to accommodate 13 female international protection applicants in the Achill Head Hotel for a number of weeks until places became available in a dedicated accommodation centre.  They were to be in Achill for a maximum stay of 3 months.  

    However, an ongoing protest remains in place outside the hotel, so the Department has regrettably decided that, at the moment, to ask the women to move there would not be in their best interests, as they may be vulnerable while awaiting decisions on their protection applications.

    Officials from the Department have been engaging with public representatives from the area

    From that response it would appear that the dept officials are not in any direct contact with the local community but rather with public representatives -  deputies, senators and councillors.

    Midwest News will now contact public representatives today and ask them about their engagement in the plans.

  • An event is taking place in Co Leitrim tonight to welcome plans for a direct-provision centre in the town.

    Proposals to house more than 100 asylum-seekers in apartments in Ballinamore have been 'paused' after local opposition.

    But tonight's event in the town is designed to extend a 'warm message of welcome' to the asylum-seekers if and when they arrive.

    Organiser Caroline Dempsey says she was concerned about the level of opposition to the plans.

  • Failte Acla will host a coffee morning at 12 noon tomorrow in Keel Hall as protests continue at the Achill Head Hotel.

    Some members of the community began protesting at the proposed emergency accommodation site which was due to house 13 female asylum seekers.

    This comes after the Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan called for the ‘Siege to be lifted’ outside the Keel Hotel.

    A member of Failte Acla told Midwest News they invite those protesting outside of the Achill Head Hotel to come to the coffee morning tomorrow in the hope of bringing the community in Achill back together.

  • NUI Galway is a University of Sanctuary following three years of campaigning from the university’s Students Union.

     

    The University of Sanctuary initiative aims to make third level institutions more inclusive to refugees, asylum seekers and members of the Irish Travelling Community.

     

    8 Scholarships at undergrad and postgraduate levels have been offered to members of different minority groups to attend NUIG.

     

    The designation hopes to improve access, inclusion and visibility of students from ethnic minority communities at NUI Galway.

     

    Clare Austick, Students’ Union President has been telling Midwest News that the status has been the culmination of three years work.

  • Plans to accommodate up to 70 asylum seekers temporarily at a hotel in Achill have been paused, following a public meeting last night.

    Over 200 people attended the meeting in Cashel, which was called at short notice after it emerged yesterday that up to 70 migrants were due to arrive today, and would be temporarily housed in emergency accommodation at the Achill Head Hotel in Keel.

    In a statement to Midwest News, the Department of Justice has explained that, as demand continues to rise, they sought expressions of interest earlier this year for emergency temporary accommodation.

    However, to protect the privacy of applicants and other guests, they do not public identify the emergency accommodation centres, which are provided in hotels and guest houses.

    Following last night's meeting, Achill-based Fianna Fail Councillor Paul McNamara told Midwest News that no final decision will be made on the matter until the Department of Justice liaises with the local community, and he's invited Department representatives to Achill to speak with local residents.

    Councillor McNamara says the main concerns locally are the lack of consultation on plans for the emergency accommodation centre, and the suitability of the hotel for an emergency accommodation centre.

    Joe Daly of Mayo People Before Profit also attended last night's meeting in Achill, and has criticised what he calls the "inhumane" Direct Provision system.

  • Galway West TD Noel Grealish is coming under increased pressure withdraw his comments about asylum seekers.

    It's after footage emerged of the independent TD addressing a public meeting in Oughterard earlier this week in relation to possible plans for a direct provision centre on the site of a former hotel in the area.

    The Taoiseach has already called on the deputy to withdraw the remarks.

  • The Government is planning to house nearly 5,500 asylum seekers in new direct provision centres across the State at a cost of more than €320 million over the coming years.

    According to today’s Irish Times, tender documents show the Department of Justice is seeking providers to operate centres in eight regions covering the 26 counties.

    Aidan O’Driscoll, the department’s secretary general, has said a programme of engagement will be carried out with communities as the locations of the centres are finalised. It is understood that the department will begin analysing the bids for the contracts in the coming weeks.

    The department has been under pressure to find accommodation for asylum seekers following 3,762 applications in the first nine months of this year, the highest level since 2008. There was a 20 per cent increase in demand for direct provision accommodation last year and this is expected to rise further this year.

    The tender documents show that at least 617 asylum seekers would be placed in the west region – Galway, Mayo and Roscommon – under the plan and those bidding for the contract have been told it is worth €33 million over at least two years.

    In the border region covering Cavan, Donegal, Leitrim, Monaghan and Sligo – the department is seeking to house at least 750 asylum seekers in new centres. The contract for these is valued at €46 million and would last for between two and four years.

    In a letter sent to the Dáil’s Public Accounts Committee, Mr O’Driscoll said that there are now 1,531 asylum seekers in emergency accommodation in hotels and guesthouses because of a lack of space in the direct provision system.

    The department declined to reveal the exact locations of the potential new direct provision centres, but Mr O’Driscoll said talks with the relevant communities will begin shortly.

    Meanwhile a 24.7 silent vigil is continuing outside the Achill Head Hotel in Keel where the Dept plans to accommodate asylum seekers in emergency accommodation

  • The Reception and Integration Agency has today confirmed to Achill based councillor Paul McNamara that a meeting with representatives from the community will take place prior to the commencement of The Emergency Accommodation on the site of The Achill Head Hotel tomorrow.

    There has been no time confirmed for that meeting to take place.

    The councillor says that he sought updates today from The Department of Justice and the Reception and Integration Agency regarding the contract that is in place, which is to provide Emergency Accommodation on the site of The Achill Head Hotel for 38 asylum seekers, all male.

    The Reception and Integration Agency today confirmed to the councillor that no changes have been made and the contract between it and the proprietor of the hotel remains the same.

    20 asylum seekers are due to arrive at the hotel tomorrow (Wednesday) with a further 18 asylum seekers to arrive next week. They are all men.

  • A silent vigil is continuing in Achill this morning following the statement released yesterday evening by the Department of Justice, that plans to house Asylum Seekers in Emergency Accommodation in The Achill Head, Pollagh have been put on pause. The Department says it's "disappointed at the continuing protest but it will continue to engage, in an effort to resolve the situation.”

    A spokesperson for the local residents of Pollagh told Midwest News this morning  that “at no stage was their silent vigil intimidating in any shape or form. Explaining that it is made up completely of local residents from all over Achill who have concerns surrounding the suitability of the Hotel for long term use for vulnerable people.

    The spokesperson goes on to say “our concerns and anger lie with the Irish Government who have continuously kept us in the dark  and who failed to consult with us regarding a suitable plan for any help or support for the Asylum Seekers on their arrival to Achill and our fears and concerns about the vulnerability of the group.

    Our message remains the same - we are not opposed to having Asylum Seekers in our community, but what we are opposed to, is the lack of consultation from the department around this matter and safety concerns that the site is not suitable for this group of people to be housed in”.

    The spokesperson concluded “We look forward to continued negotiations with the Department of Justice in the coming days regarding the next steps and in the meantime the vigil outside the hotel will continue”.