EXCLUSIVE: Athlone asylum-seekers very critical of care at direct provision centre

Up to 175 asylum-seekers from the direct provision centre in Athlone have strongly complained about the care they’re receiving.

They’ve told the Department of Justice that sometimes people get sick, suffer diarrhoea or need hospital care because of the quality of food at the facility

In correspondence released under the Freedom of Information Act, they are also unhappy the treatment they receive from staff and management and their weekly allowance of €19.10.

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There are 252 residents in Athlone’s direct-provision centre at Lissywollen.

In July, residents of about 50 of the 100 mobile homes on site wrote a letter of complaint to the Reception and Integration Agency, a division of the Department of Justice, in which they outline longstanding concerns about the food quality.

They claim that sometimes residents get sick or suffer from diarrhoea once when consume food cooked from the kitchen, which they request be closed.

They also claim children sometimes require hospital care because of the spicy food that’s provided and babies vomit because of their meals.

They complain about their weekly allowance of €19.10, saying it’s not enough to provide food that they can prepare themselves and cook in their ‘caravans’.

The residents claim the laundry machines don’t have soap most of the time and they’re expected to buy it from their small allowance.

They allege the shampoo they are given gives them allergies and skin rashes.

The residents claim their concerns have been raised several times with local management, but aren’t taken seriously.

They also allege they sometimes receive ‘unfair and rude’ treatment from staff and management and plead to be ‘treated and respected like human beings’.

They allege they suffer ‘intimidation and humiliation’ every time they try to make a request.

In response, the Reception and Integration Agency claims no complaints have been received by local management about illness as a result of food from the kitchen, which adheres to all guidelines in relation to health and safety.

It also claims no complaints had been received about unfair treatment from staff or management.

The department says it takes the wellbeing of residents very seriously and affords the highest priority to the safeguarding and protection of children.