Mothers in Direct Provision emergency accommodation refuse food in protest
Families were given two days' notice before being moved from accommodation in Dublin to accommodation in Leitrim.
An emergency accommodation centre for people in Direct Provision has changed its food policies after a group of mothers refused to eat food at the centre this week.
Several families were transferred from the Balseskin reception centre in Dublin to the emergency accommodation centre in Leitrim last week.
According to one mother who has been transferred from from Dublin to Leitrim, families were given notice of the move on Tuesday (21 August) and brought to Leitrim by bus just two days later.
"On the first day at lunch time we were given rice, soup, green salad," she told JOE.
"At night: rice, mashed potatoes and soup. It continued like that. Rice, and soup, and mashed potatoes."
On one evening this week, the dinner was "10 chips and a burger" - a picture of which was posted online by the Movement for Asylum Seekers in Ireland (MASI) on Tuesday.
Residents in Carrick on Shannon in Co Leitrim have started throwing food away because of portions, type of food served, & the fact that children get their last meal at 17h00 and have no snacks in between meals so they starve until next meal. Breastfeeding mom affected pic.twitter.com/7CFRd2bDF7
— MASI - Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland (@masi_asylum) August 27, 2019
It was further claimed that, on the same evening, a woman who was breastfeeding was refused a request for additional food. This resulted in several mothers at the site refusing to eat their food, and attention being drawn to the centre on social media.
A woman living at the centre said that since the photos of their food had gone online, the meals had improved. "Now it's soup with real meat, recipes are changing every day. We've had macaroni, yesterday we had spaghetti."
Presented with the claim that food at the centre was insufficient, a representative told JOE: "That's not true," but made no further comment.
Residents have further raised issues regarding schooling, amenities and healthcare. The nearest primary school is a 25-30 minute walk away, and children on site have no option to get there besides walking. One mother noted that there is nowhere for her children to play safely outside.
"We still have doctor's appointments in Dublin and must travel three and a half hours to catch our appointments," one woman in the centre said.
The families were originally housed at Balseskin reception centre, which has a capacity of 320. It is designated as the reception centre where all newly arrived asylum seekers are accommodated. However, the Balseskin centre is now regularly at capacity, which causes the displacement of newly arrived asylum-seekers. A mother noted that there are parks nearby where children can play.
The Leitrim centre is alternative accommodation provided by the Reception and Integration Agency on an emergency basis, as part of a system where the Irish state pays hotel and hostel owners who have spare beds.
"It previously was an emergency accommodation centre for single men only. The conditions are bad and very unsuitable, especially for young families. They are totally isolated and the nearest school is a 30-minute walk," Jenny Carla Moran of the MASI Solidarity Campaign told JOE.
Asked about the emergency centre, RIA referred JOE to the Department of Justice, who could not comment on the specific case in question.
According to the Department of Justice: "The number of international protection applicants arriving in Ireland continues to rise. In the first half of this year alone, we have seen a 36% annual increase in the number of applications received, which has resulted in a significant strain on accommodation resources.
"To ensure we can continue to support people who arrive to claim international protection, RIA is using hotels and guest houses as emergency accommodation."