Asylum seekers in a controversial Kerry Direct Provision centre have gone on hunger strike in protest at the “inhumane conditions” they are living in.
For four months, asylum who are staying at the Skellig Star hotel in Cahersiveen have been calling on the government to move them out. The group of 41 people left at the hotel includes seven children. The hunger strike follows complaints about the standards of the accommodation and an outbreak of Covid-19 among a number of asylum seekers. About 30 people have already been moved out of the hotel.
“We have been traumatised and for us to recover from this we need to be all moved out of this accommodation immediately by the ministers to appropriate accommodation centres. We are just 41 asylum seekers remaining including 7 children.
"More than 30 asylum seekers left the centre to different parts of the country because they preferred to be on the street than to continue to live here,” the asylum seekers said in a statement. The hunger strike started at 10am on Tuesday morning.
There have been allegations from the asylum seekers that they had been forced to ration food and water at the centre. The asylum seekers have called on the state to give them access to a social worker. They said they want to be moved to either Mosney Direct Provision Centre or Tullamore Direct Provision Centre.
When Covid-19 hit, the Kerry hotel was set up as a new Direct Provision centre in order to try to ensure social distancing in accommodation centres. A number of asylum seekers were moved from existing centres in Dublin, to Kerry. There has since been 25 confirmed cases of Covid-19 among asylum seekers at the Skellig Star.
Norma Foley, the Kerry TD and now Minister for Education, told the Dáil’s Covid-19 committee last month that she had seen evidence that a person who was suspected of having Covid-19 was taken from Dublin to Kerry on a bus to the Skellig Star hotel.
Locals in Cahersiveen, who welcomed the asylum seekers initially, have repeatedly called on the Department of Justice and the government to move the asylum seekers to better conditions. People living in the town said that they were also being put at risk of contracting Covid-19 by the standards at the hotel.
There were claims that there was poor deep cleaning and sanitising of hotel rooms where there had been confirmed cases of Covid-19.
It also emerged in May that a former manager at the hotel had resigned in protest at the conditions of the Direct Provision centre, and that staff working there had not had appropriate garda vetting.