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Direct Provision Residents Undergo Hunger Strike, Protesting “Inhumane” Conditions

Residents of the Direct Provision Centre in Cahersiveen have gone on hunger strike to protest their “inhumane” living conditions. The hunger strike began on the morning of Tuesday July 28th and follows calls for the centres closure by its residents and local people. The centre currently hosts 41 residents, including 7 children. 30 residents have left the centre since it opened in mid- March. At least 20 of the residents contracted coronavirus while staying at the centre in April, in what they describe as a traumatising experience. Thus far their requests to be moved have been ignored, forcing them to take more drastic action.

In a statement released on their behalf, the residents of the centre are calling for their relocation to “appropriate accommodation”, saying they have been “traumatized” by their experience of living in the centre. They also state they have “suffered physically, socially, mentally and emotionally” at the hands of the International Protection Accommodation Service “during and post-COVID”. They implore Ministers Roderic Gorman and Helen McEntee to act “immediately” to have them moved to accommodation with adequate facilities, citing their preferred centres as Mosney and Tullamore accommodation centres. They also demand access to a Social Worker, proper vulnerability assessments and adequate treatment for trauma.

In a series of tweets, Minster Deputy Gorman for Children, Disability, Equality and Integration made clear the governments’ commitment to ending Direct Provision, acknowledging that the centre in Cahersiveen “is just one part of much wider, more fundamental problems with the Direct Provision Centre in Ireland”. He also said that ending Direct Provision will “take time” and stated his intent to “make improvements to the lives of the people” living in Direct Provision, as they work towards dismantling the system. He also pointed out that responsibility for Direct Provision currently resides with the Department of Justice and will be transferred to his department in the coming months. Minister Deputy McEntee, of the department of justice, has yet to comment on the situation.

Direct Provision is the system of asylum seeker accommodation in operation in Ireland. It has been criticised for being a violation of human rights and the current Programme for Government promises it’s abolishment.