MANAGEMENT at Clonakilty Lodge, West Cork’s only direct provision centre, have agreed to sit down with residents to address their concerns, following a protest at the centre.
The peaceful protest by residents on Tuesday morning began at 6am at the centre on Dunmore Road in the town.
Residents claim they were not given prior notice of the visit to the Lodge by Minister of State for Equality, Immigration and Integration, David Stanton last Monday.
Up to 30 residents, who took their children out of school for the day, launched the protest in the foyer and placed protest signs on the doors of the facility, which accommodates 100 people, including 40 families.
In a frank discussion with manager Michael Plichta and assistant manager Marion O’Regan, residents outlined their concerns about various issues at the centre.
They are calling for regular meetings to take place between residents and management as well as the introduction of better communication channels.
Speaking to The Southern Star, Evelyn Adoga, a member of the residents’ committee at the centre, said they staged the protest because they had not been told the Minister of State was coming.
‘No residents, or even the committee, were pre-informed of his visit. We do not know the reason for his visitation and we were not given any information after his departure,’ said Evelyn.
‘The residents and friends have been waiting for the opportunity to meet with a TD to resolve already pressing matters on the ground, only for it to come unannounced.’
Evelyn felt that they should have been consulted on the visit and that a representative of the committee should have been allowed to meet Minister Stanton.
‘We expect and request that the Minister re-visit or send someone from his office to Clonakilty Lodge to meet with the actual residents of the centre,’ added Evelyn.
However, a spokesperson for the Department of Justice and Equality said that Minister Stanton did meet and spoke with residents who were present.
‘Others may have been either at work, attending classes or otherwise occupied. He also met with a representative of the Friends of the Centre Group. He was not informed that more residents would have liked to have met with him, but would be happy to meet on any future visits.’
Minister Stanton was accompanied by local TD Jim Daly on his visit and was there to see the operation of the new onsite shop, which was recently opened as part of the centre’s improvements.
The spokesperson added that the Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) is arranging for a staff member to travel to Clonakilty to ascertain the residents’ concerns, adding: ‘RIA has not been made aware of any specific issues in relation to the accommodation centre.’