Dublin refugee reception centre targeted
February 14, 2013 — News
Written by IRR European News Team
Since the start of the year, there have been at least four suspected racially motivated attacks on residents at the Balseskin reception centre for asylum seekers in the Finglas area of Dublin.
The latest incidents occurred on 8-9 February. The Irish Refugee Council (IRC) has expressed concern about the institutional response to these attacks, stressing that a number of residents have been struck with heavy objects from speeding cars, and in one incident, an individual was hit on the back of the head and was hospitalised.
The Balsekin reception centre, which, amongst others, accommodates all new asylum claimants prior to dispersal to other parts of Ireland, is located close to the airport on a rural part of the M50 ring road motorway, with very limited public transport and no safe footpaths. The nearest village of Finglas is 4 kilometres away, and the area has long struggled with unemployment and crime, in particular drug-related gang crime.
In a press statement, Sue Conlan, Chief Executive of the IRC said: ‘We are concerned about the vulnerability of a very visible section of the community and the apparent lack of communication to residents from centre management, the Reception and Integration Agency and local Gardaí. Residents are not being told if the Gardaí are taking active steps to protect them or apprehend those responsible. Some are afraid to leave the grounds of the centre. Communication is vital in these circumstances to allay fears and to show that the authorities are taking them seriously.’
‘These incidents highlight the unsuitability of the large scale, long term accommodation, known as Direct Provision, used for asylum seekers in Ireland. The way in which Direct Provision has been implemented excludes asylum seekers from the local community and can contribute to resentment. Many people still believe that asylum seekers get a good deal in Direct Provision but the reality is crowded accommodation, no opportunity to work, cook or provide for your family and years of idleness and frustration.’
 Direct Provision and Dispersal is the policy for accommodating asylum seekers in Ireland. It began in 2000 and is operated by the Reception and Integration Agency (RIA), a division of the Department of Justice. Under the system, asylum seekers are not permitted to work or claim social welfare. They are accommodated in centres run by private companies, contracted by RIA. Centres include former hostels and hotels, a caravan park, a former convent and a small number of purpose-built centres. Families, including parents and teenage children, are allocated one room in which to live. Single parents share with other single parents and their children and individuals share with other individuals. Residents receive three meals a day but have no access to cooking or food storage facilities in order to provide for themselves or their children. A weekly allowance of €19.10 per adult and €9.60 per child is received.
The Institute of Race Relations is precluded from expressing a corporate view: any opinions expressed are therefore those of the authors.