Saturday 21 September 2019

Councillor paid for votes, asylum seeker tells court

Tim Healy

A MAN has claimed an asylum centre manager who was elected to a local council last year paid money to residents in return for votes, the High Court has heard.

As a result of the man's complaints about this and other matters, he was "ejected" and told he was to be transferred to another centre, it was also claimed.

Fine Gael Longford town councillor James Keogh, who is manager of Richmond Court Accommodation Centre in the town, is at the centre of the electoral fraud allegations in proceedings brought by the man who cannot be named because he is seeking asylum.

The man asked the court yesterday for permission to bring proceedings against Justice, Minister Dermot Ahern and the Attorney General. He wants an injunction requiring the State to accommodate him at the Longford centre.

Mr Justice Michael Peart put his application back for a week to allow the State to be notified.

Earlier this month, the man was told he was being transferred to Limerick after he was accused of being abusive to staff at the centre, the court heard. He denied the accusation.

In an affidavit, the man said he made a complaint to gardai over the alleged electoral fraud involving residents and Mr Keogh and it was the subject of reports in the media. He also made formal complaints about the food at the centre, and gathered signatures from 22 others.

He said the food was inedible and that people had become ill after eating it. He claimed there was no security at the centre, and last November an intruder assaulted another resident.

He also said his bedroom and belongings had been searched by staff members. He said he received a letter from the Refugee and Integration Agency on January 15 saying that he had been transferred to Foynes in Limerick.

He said he was also told by Mr Keogh that the reason for the transfer was over his objections to the food. He said his belongings were later thrown into the street.

He said that the letter also contained unspecified allegations that he was abusive and threatening towards staff at the centre, which he denies.

In his action the man is seeking a number of declarations including that the "unregulated" nature of accommodation of asylum seekers is unconstitutional.

He is also seeking a declaration that the nature, manner and operation of the the "Dispersal" and "Direct Provision" systems, where accommodation is provided for asylum seekers, is incompatible with the State's obligations under the provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Irish Independent

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