- 20 May 20
A mother of two children, including one who tested positive for the coronavirus, has been shunted from one direct provision location to another. Now, she says she has had enough and does not want to be moved to a centre in Carrick-On-Shannon, Co. Leitrim, about which she has serious health and safety concerns
A female asylum seeker, one of whose children has recently recovered from Covid-19, has told the Department of Justice that she does not wish to be transferred to Ciúin House Direct Provision Centre in Carrick-On-Shannon, Co. Leitrim.
The woman, who prefers not to be named, has given health and safety concerns as the reason for her rejection of the accommodation offered.
The woman and her two children, who were housed in Ballsbridge Hotel, Dublin at the beginning of this year, have been transferred to three different locations since early in March.
First, the family was sent to Skellig Star Hotel, the controversial Direct Provision Centre in Co Kerry, where 24 people have already contracted the coronavirus. There, her small daughter tested positive for Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
Following the child’s positive test result, the family was removed from the Kerry-based centre and sent to a self-isolation facility in Co Cork. They were subsequently transferred to another facility, in Co. Dublin, in May.
The woman's rejection of the accommodation offered follows two weeks during which the conditions in which asylum seekers in Ireland are kept has come under increasing scrutiny – especially in relation to the Skellig Star Hotel in Cahersiveen, Co. Kerry – which has been written about extensively by Hot Press.
In recent days, the woman has been under pressure to agree to another transfer to Ciúin House in Leitrim. But she is adamant that she does not want to go there under any circumstances.
Hot Press previously highlighted issues around the inability of residents to maintain social-distancing at the Leitrim centre; and the shortage of vital protective gear. Having seen two confirmed cases of coronavirus in the centre, residents told us at the time that they desperately wanted to leave.
However, a current resident of Ciúin House has confirmed to Hot Press that the situation there has improved, since the publication of our report.
In the letter she has written to the International Protection Accommodation Services (IPAS), which Hot Press has seen, the woman pleads that her children have gone through significant trauma and don't deserve to be shipped to another refugee accommodation which she believes is unsuitable.
“I have received your offer to have me and my children accommodated at Ciúin House,” she says in the letter to IPAS. “I am in need of housing; however, I regret to inform you that I am politely declining your offer to move my children to Ciúin House. The Ciúin House has its own issues.”
The woman is determined to be moved to a family housing unit, where she hopes her children can begin to recover from the psychological impact of their recent experiences.
“We have been in isolation for 28 days in one room, and we cannot be transferred to another centre that will confine my children and I in a single room,” she writes.
The single mother has asked IPAS to put an end to their temporary way of life: it is taking a toll, she says, on her children’s mental health.
“My children have been through trauma,” she explains, “and it is not conducive for us to move for the fourth time into another temporary room. Please find me appropriate family housing where my children can have peace of mind and start their healing process. I have a 13-year-old son who has been sharing a room with my daughter and I since our arrival in August 2019, and he needs privacy however that is impossible as we are all in one room.”
In a positive initiative, IPAS recently started to provide a limited number of family housing units, in which children are afforded a modicum of normalcy in their lives by having their own room. However, there are not enough of these housing units to cater for the demand.
RACISM IN LEITRIM
The powerfully written letter also includes allegations about incidences of racism in Leitrim, including death threats to asylum seekers.
The Government had planned to house 80 people in the Shannon Key West Hotel in Rooskey, a town on the Leitrim-Roscommon border. However, the hotel was set on fire twice, in what are universally believed to have been arson attacks. No one was charged, and in March 2019, the Department of Justice announced that it had abandoned plans for a Direct Provision Centre in the village.
While many individuals in Rooskey lent their support to asylum seekers, and expressed dismay at the arson attacks, there is no doubt that an aggressive, anti-migrant campaign had been run, and that it had garnered a level of local support.
There were also protests and pickets in Ballinamore, Co. Leitrim, when a hotel there was earmarked for use as a direct provision centre.
According to a recent report published by researchers at the University of Limerick (UL), Ireland has failed to meet its obligations in relation to hate crimes.
The Department of Justice, is in the process of reforming the Prohibition of Hatred Act of 1989, which aims to protect marginalised and vulnerable groups from racially-motivated attacks of any kind.
Last year, anti-immigrant groups held a demonstration outside Cork City Council opposing those plans. However, they were outnumbered by human rights campaigners, who stood across the street in opposition.
Meanwhile, the woman at the centre of the latest storm – who is anxiously awaiting what fate, and the Department of Justice, have in store for her – told Hot Press that she is simply exhausted from living a transient life.
“It has been a hard journey for my kids, you know,” she said.
Main pic: Ciúin House, the direct provision centre in Carrick-On-Shannon, Co. Leitrim