Bray People - - NEWS -

THE leas­ing of the only ho­tel in Wick­low town as a di­rect pro­vi­sion cen­tre is in di­rect con­flict with the pro­mo­tion of the town as a tourism des­ti­na­tion, Fianna Fáil Deputy Pat Casey told the Dáil.

In the con­text of town and vil­lage re­newal, he said the Gov­ern­ment made an­nounce­ments re­gard­ing Wick­low town in the con­text of en­hanc­ing the vis­i­tor ex­pe­ri­ence, giv­ing ad­di­tional fund­ing to Tidy Towns to reach gold medal sta­tus and pro­vid­ing Lo­calLink ser­vices to Wick­low and Glen­dalough.

‘Only two weeks ago, the Min­is­ter launched the tourism strat­egy for Wick­low and as­signed a task force for the east coast green­way for Wick­low town,’ he said. ‘How does leas­ing the only ho­tel in Wick­low town for di­rect pro­vi­sion con­trib­ute to these strate­gies? Peo­ple in Wick­low town have not been con­sulted on this. Where is the joined-up think­ing?’

Sinn Féin Deputy John Brady said he was deeply con­cerned that rather than try­ing to dis­man­tle the shame­ful di­rect pro­vi­sion sys­tem, the Gov­ern­ment is seek­ing to ex­pand it and open a di­rect pro­vi­sion cen­tre in Wick­low town.

‘It must be re­mem­bered that Fianna Fáil cre­ated and es­tab­lished the di­rect pro­vi­sion sys­tem,’ he said. ‘It was meant to be on a tem­po­rary ba­sis for up to six months for peo­ple seek­ing in­ter­na­tional pro­tec­tion and asy­lum. The Taoiseach will be aware that all the NGOs rep­re­sent­ing asy­lum seek­ers have voiced se­ri­ous and deep con­cerns about di­rect pro­vi­sion.’

In re­ply, Min­is­ter of State David Stan­ton said this year, it is ex­pected there will be 3,500 ap­pli­ca­tions for asy­lum. Last year, there were 3,000. ‘Asy­lum seek­ers are of­fered places and no­body is herded any­where,’ he said. ‘Asy­lum seek­ers are free to take up places or not, as they wish. They are of­fered ac­com­mo­da­tion, food, warmth, a shower, etc.’

He added that the re­port from Mr Jus­tice Mc- Ma­hon on con­di­tions in­cluded 173 rec­om­men­da­tions to im­prove the ac­com­mo­da­tion sys­tems, 98% of which have been fully or par­tially im­ple­mented.

‘ The Om­buds­man for Chil­dren and the Om­buds­man also visit the cen­tres, lis­ten to the peo­ple liv­ing there and take com­plaints,’ he said. “If any­body has a bet­ter way of do­ing this, let him or her please tell me what it is be­cause I have not heard it to date. Asy­lum seek­ers are guar­an­teed a bed, a shower and food, tonight or when they come to Ire­land in these ac­com­mo­da­tion cen­tres. We do not want peo­ple on the streets. That is the al­ter­na­tive, un­less the Deputies can come up with some­thing bet­ter.’

The Grand Ho­tel in Wick­low town.

Deputy Pat Casey.

Deputy John Brady.

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