Residents of Athlone Direct Provision Accommodation Centre on hunger strike

Posted On: September 4, 2014

Media Release, 4 September 2014

The residents of Lissywollen Direct Provision Accommodation Centre, Athlone, have been refusing food since yesterday. Nearly 60% of the residents are children.  This protest came about in response to the management’s failure to respond to a letter that was drafted by residents on August 1st 2014. In the letter, residents collectively outlined the main complaints that they had with regards to the operation of the centre. This includes the standard of food and the manner in which the food is provided.

This is the second protest taken by residents of the Direct Provision system in less than one month. Residents of Mount Trenchard also refused food and protested in August at the duration spent in Direct Provision, their isolation, living circumstances and separation from their children.

Sue Conlan, CEO of the Irish Refugee Council, said, “The residents of Lissywollen wrote a very detailed letter on 1st August 2014 to the management in which they listed their collective complaints. The management agreed at the time to review the letter and get back to the residents with a response and possible solutions to the problems outlined. This has failed to happen”.

Conlan went on to say, “People feel that they have no choice left. Refusing food in protest is one thing they can control. We are aware that Aodhain O’Riordhain TD, the Junior Minister, is establishing a Working Group to examine Direct Provision but there are immediate grievances that must be addressed now.  We would support the call by the residents for the problems raised to be resolved without further delay”.

When asked for comment, the residents simply stated, “the children have suffered enough”.

ENDS

 

Contact:

Caroline Reid, 085 858 5510

Notes to the editor:

Residents are available for interview

Sue Conlan also available for interview

Link to RIA Inspection report of Athlone 2013:

http://www.ria-inspections.gov.ie/en/RIAIR/2013%20Athlone%20Inspection%20Report%20Nov.pdf/Files/2013%20Athlone%20Inspection%20Report%20Nov.pdf

 

Excerpts from the letter to management:

“Residents are not happy that management act swiftly on hearsay and yet take no action on serious issues which affect our day to day living, which have been highlighted to you. This is quite concerning and instils no confidence that you have our best interests at heart.”

“Residents have been complaining for a long time about the standard of the food that is served on a daily basis. Nothing has been done in this area, instead, people have been told statements such as: “You have come to Ireland, you have to eat Irish food and if you don’t like it, go back where you are came from.””

“Things are changed whenever it suits management with no explanation or consultation with the residents is made.”

“The small carton (of juice) children receive whilst in school is too small for teenagers to last them from 8am – 4pm. We are also supplementing our children’s lunches, which is another expense off our small weekly allowance.”

“We are given salad ingredients to make salad in our own mobile homes, often it is not washed properly or has gone off.”

“When issuing bread, please consider the size of the family as at times, 1 loaf is not enough for a big family for 2 days.”

“Seat covers in the mobile homes and mattresses and bed linen should be replaced as most of it is in a terrible state.”