Where are Direct Provision Centres?
The location of centres is another controversial issue related to the system of Direct Provision in Ireland. It’s widely known that these centres are located in isolated parts of the country. This warehousing of asylum seekers further inhibits their integration into Irish society.
Only three of the 47 Direct Provision centres in Ireland were built for the actual purpose, the rest have been converted from holiday and caravan parks, convents, hostels and hotels.
Basic resources and support services are not available to people living in these isolated areas. For example, asylum seekers are not entitled to hold an Irish driving licence, and therefore must depend on public transport (which we all know is undependable and infrequent in most parts of rural Ireland). Simple tasks that we take for granted like opening a bank account, going to the shops, the post office, school and work are made unnecessarily difficult due to the fact that residents are often unable to travel to towns and cities to avail of these services. This is a physical barrier preventing them from engaging with and becoming part of Irish society.
It is also inconvenient for those who are in the process of applying for asylum to live a great distance from Dublin as they have to make frequent trips to the capital. One example of this is those living in the DP centre in Moville, Co. Donegal. The quickest and easiest way to travel from Moville to Dublin involves crossing the border into Northern Ireland, which is actually a criminal offence for asylum seekers. Residents in centres located in Kenmare, Co. Kerry and Lisdoonvarna, Co. Clare face similar challenges in relation to the length, cost and inconvenience of their journey to Dublin. (1)
The establishment of DP centres in rural parts of Ireland can generate mixed reaction from the local community. At times, people protest against the opening or existence of centres because they disagree with the system as a whole rather than the asylum seekers themselves. In other instances, the local reaction is one of racism and discrimination, and at times manifests in protests and violence. (e.g. After two arson attacks on the Shannon Key West hotel, plans to convert it into a DP centre were cancelled).
An Irish Times case study reported on three towns; Roosky, Co. Roscommon, Oughterard, Co. Galway and Lisdoonvarna, Co. Clare where the proposal and/or opening of centres caused tensions in the community. (2)
Whether it is rejection of the Direct Provision system on a moral basis, or an inert racism in Irish people, one cannot deny that the idea of isolating asylum seekers on the outskirts of Irish society is not a successful program. The whole idea of grouping asylum seekers, in their hundreds, in a centre in small towns is mismanaged. In order to allow asylum seekers to integrate and rebuild their lives in a safe environment, families and individuals need to be dispersed all over the country, in small numbers, rather than being clumped together, isolated and segregated from the Irish people.
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Image of DP centres : https://www.directprovision.org/