It was Christmas Eve 2018, and alarm bells were ringing in Knockalisheen direct provision centre in Co Clare.
Bulelani Mfaco, an activist living in direct provision, says that he remembers the noise clearly. "The fire alarms were going berserk because of people cooking in their bedrooms and having to lock their rooms so management didn't catch them," Mr Mfaco, who is also a spokesman for the Movement of Asylum Seekers Ireland (MASI), said.
Knockalisheen was one of a number of direct provision centres where inspection reports found people with cooking equipment in their rooms, and covering smoke alarms. The centre does not have any self-catering cooking facilities for its residents.
An inspection in March 2019 found covered smoke alarms in 11 rooms. Deep-fat fryers, hotplates, mini-ovens and cookers were discovered in eight rooms.
Mr Mfaco says inspection reports revealing poor standards in direct provision do not capture all of the difficulties with the system.
He said: "If they give asylum seekers pots and stoves it doesn't address the core problems with institutionalised living and the State-sponsored poverty asylum seekers are forced to endure for a long time."