Asylum seeker 'safety net' in Laois is 'stretched'

Michelle Hogan

Reporter:

Michelle Hogan

Refugees moved  into former hotel in Laois town

60 asylum seekers live in the former Hibernian Hotel at Pembroke Terrace, Abbeyleix

Emergency Accommodation for asylum seekers in Rathdowney is a providing a ‘safety net’ for people seeking asylum in Ireland but ‘the system is very stretched’ according to the Department of Justice.

Asylum seekers are living in emergency accommodation at a guesthouse in Rathdowney while waiting for space to open in a direct provision centre like the Montague Hotel.

Those living in Rathdowney are entitled to Expenses Allowance of €29.80 for children and €38.80 for adults per week but the temporary nature of the situation makes it hard to provide other services, a department spokesperson told the Leinster Express.

“Emergency accommodation by virtue of its temporary nature presents more challenges for service provision.

“The Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) is doing an important job under difficult circumstances. The number of people seeking international protection in Ireland continues to increase. Last year alone saw an increase of more than 20%. This rise in numbers - and the fact that hundreds of people who have received a positive decision on their protection application or humanitarian permission to remain in the country - continue to remain in our accommodation means the system is very stretched.

“Despite these challenges, we are still providing an important safety net for people who have come here seeking our services,” the spokesperson said.

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The nationalities of asylum seekers in Rathdowney cannot be revealed due to a right to privacy.

The number of people in the Rathdowney guesthouse, their nationalities, whether there are children or adults or whether children need spaces in school cannot be revealed to protect their identities.

Rathdowney was chosen as a location for emergency accommodation because of 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.

Asylum seekers in Ireland are entitled to full board accommodation, weekly allowance, access to medical cards, education, work permits and other supports.

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.

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