LEASING OF HOTEL AS DIRECT PROVISION CENTRE CRITICISED
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.