Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Closure of asylum seeker centre criticised

An article in the Irish Times from Monday, 10th September, discussed the closure of the Lisbrook centre, formerly the Ibis Hotel, which accommodates several hundred asylum seekers and their families. These families are now set to be relocated to other refugee accommodation centres around Ireland, but the individual relocation sites have yet to be determined.

This closure puts an already vulnerable population at additional risk. Refugees who were housed at the Lisbrook centre have endured many trials in their journey to Ireland, and they settled at the centre with the hopes that they could begin anew in Ireland. Now, as the families face uprooting, parents are worried about their children having to switch schools, communities face the loss of neighbours, and weary refugees have to face yet another move. The closure happening in mid-September shows additional lack of consideration for school children who may be already settled into a new school.

Many of the refugees were too frightened to have their names quoted in the newspaper, but they anonymously reported “serious trauma,” especially since some of them have already spent time in eight different provision centres. They were hoping to finally settle down in Lisbrook, only to find that they had to relocate once again.

The community in Galway is outraged as well. Labour TD for Galway West, Derek Nolan, said it’s a “terrible way to treat people,” and he promised to contact the Department of Justice to discover why the centre has been closed. The information provided to the refugees about their future provisions is frustratingly vague so many families are still left questioning what the future holds for them. The criticism that has risen as a result of this closure should demonstrate to the Department of Justice, and the Reception and Integration Agency, the organization responsible for direct provision accommodation, that a more stable living situation is crucial for this population of asylum seekers.

An article from 11th September describes how an anti-racist group has appealed to Mr Alan Shatter, Minister for Justice, to review and hopefully quash the decision to close the centre. The Department have stated that “Lisbrook is closing as part of an ‘ongoing consolidation’ of accommodation for asylum seekers across the State.” However, an organization against Galway called “Residents Against Racism” has appealed to the Minister to review the decision to close the centre.

Brophy Solicitors

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