By Chinedu Onyejelem
Residents at a direct provision centre in Co Monaghan have appealed to the public to rescue them from what they allege to be abusive treatment.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the residents of St Patrick’s in Monaghan town listed issues from the “poor standard of food” to “unhygienic conditions” in bathrooms, and “intimidation” from centre management.
Residents complained of having to walk “over 35 minutes” from the centre to catch the bus to Dublin for appointments with the International Protection Office (formerly the Office of the Refugee Applications Commission).
It’s also alleged that accommodation at the centre sees residents “being packed in rooms like sardines – four in a room with Christians, Muslim, Buddhist who have to queue every time to use the bathroom,” one person told Metro Éireann.
The residents say people are regularly evicted when they complain “without recourse to any rule” – claiming that the last three evictions saw people thrown out at night. “The last person – a woman - was evicted about 5pm when the centre was already closed,” said one resident. “She did not have the money to travel [so fellow] residents had to contribute €50 for fares and accommodation which enabled her to travel to and stay in a Dublin hostel”.
The resident said this woman was later transferred to Sligo by the Reception and Integration Agency (RIA). Metro Éireann was told by St Patrick’s residents that they do not want to take their complaints to the RIA, which oversees Ireland’s direct provision centres, for fear of retribution. “The RIA is fully aware of all that is going on and appears to be aiding and abetting the horrible treatment,” another resident added. “They prefer to use divide and rule.”
The resident alleged that “confidential complaints made to the RIA are often reported verbatim to the management, who end up victimising the complainant, and in most cases end up evicting him or her under the watchful eye of the RIA.”
The residents also told Metro Éireann that previous complaints over interference by management in their privacy, such as opening their private letters in contravention of data protection laws, were not resolved.
A recent letter from the European Network Against Racism Ireland (Enar) to the RIA, as seen by Metro Éireann, not only gave credence to the residents’ complaints but also provided more serious allegations against the Monaghan direct provision centre in question.
In one disturbing case, Enar said printed notices were placed on shower doors in predominantly Muslim sections of the centre which read ‘In Ireland we only s*** on the toilett! [sic]’.
“Management is alleged to have pinned [another] notice to the door of a resident which read: ‘You are animals from the desert. If you act like animals, I will treat you like animals,” Enar added.
The RIA was preparing a response at press time.