The nationalities of asylum seekers in Rathdowney cannot be revealed by the Department of Justice due to a right to privacy, a department spokesperson has said.
A number of asylum seekers are living in emergency accommodation in a guesthouse in Rathdowney for over a month now. They are waiting for space in a direct provision centre.
The number of people in the Rathdowney guesthouse, their nationalities, whether there are children or adults or whether children need spaces in local schools cannot be revealed to protect their identities.
A spokesperson for the Department of Justice said the Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) has a legal duty to protect the identities of people in the international protection process.
Rathdowney was chosen as a location for emergency accommodation after a response to an advertisement. The advertisement was for 12 to 24 weeks of bed and board.
“Any premises offered to the Department of Justice and Equality for temporary accommodation was in response to advertisements placed in the national media in January of this year.
“The advertisement sought bed and board in hotels and guesthouses on a 12-24 week basis.
“During this period, RIA will work to identify additional accommodation centres and work with persons in accommodation centres who have status to move on and free up capacity,” the spokesperson said.
The guesthouse in Rathdowney is being used to meet the demand for spaces in direct provision centres.
“RIA is currently booking a number of rooms at a guesthouse in Rathdowney on a short term, temporary basis until spaces become available in a centre.
“The premises is not a direct provision centre. The RIA is working actively to expand the number of centres available to meet demands and ensure Ireland adheres to its obligations,” the spokesperson said.
Direct provision is a means to meet the basic needs of food and shelter for asylum seekers while their claims for refugee status are being processed.
There are two direct provision centres in Laois at the former Montague Hotel in Emo housing around 200 people and the former Hibernian Hotel in Abbeyleix housing 60 people.
The centre opened in Abbeyleix last September. Between 55 and 60 asylum seekers, mostly made up of families, moved into the facility at the former Hibernian Hotel at Pembroke Terrace, Abbeyleix.
The Montague Hotel in Emo was opened in 2007 and is still in operation.
Residents live in the full board accommodation which includes light, heat and laundry services free of other charges, and are paid an allowance of €21.60 per person per week.
They may also qualify for other Social Welfare payments as determined by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection.