Residents of the Skellig Star, a Direct Provision centre in Kerry, have gone on hunger strike in protest over being forced to live in appalling conditions, including allegations that food and water is being rationed.
In an interview with the Irish Examiner, one of the residents shared, “We have told management that we will be sending details to the Department of Justice. We have all gone through a hard time from the very beginning. We have always said this was not a suitable place to live. We also faced Covid-19 problems and within a short period, we had more than 20 of the residents infected with the virus.”
The residents have said their decision to go on hunger strike is based on over five months of raising issues about conditions, yet being ignored. Additionally, due to a boil notice being put in place, residents did not have access to tap water and had to be provided with bottled water. They allege that their bottled water supply was at first reduced, then stopped completely five days ago.
Solidarity with asylum seekers who resolved to go on a hunger strike. They have, on numerous occasions, raised their concerns with @DeptJusticeIRL and they are ignored. There is nothing in the town for them. pic.twitter.com/UHZJffLVAo
— MASI – Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland (@masi_asylum) July 28, 2020
Residents have called on Roderic O’Gorman, Minister for Children, Disabilities, Equality and Integration, to intervene. Minister O’Gorman has pledged to end Direct Provision as part of the new Government.
A spokesperson from the Department of Justice stated, “The Department takes the concerns of residents very seriously. Officials from the Department of Justice and Equality have been onsite in the centre in Caherciveen to see the situation first-hand and to hear the concerns of residents directly.
“They have also been tasked with examining issues raised around the provision of meals and any issues arising following the boil water notice currently in place in the town. Any outstanding issues will be followed up for resolution as a matter of priority.”
Speaking about the Direct Provision centre, Kerry TD Danny Healy-Rae stated, “The entire south Kerry community is outraged not only of the manner in which these residents were transferred to Caherciveen and the inadequacy of facilities in the premises, but also at how appalling these people have been treated in their community. I believe it is fair to say that the people in the centre are now at crisis point with taking the decision to go on hunger strike.”
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