Lessons must be learned from Cahirsiveen crisis – O’Callaghan

Published on: 20 May 2020

Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Justice and Equality, Jim O’Callaghan, has said that the apology from the Justice Minister in relation to a direct provision centre in Co Kerry has highlighted the need for proper planning to be put in place when opening such centres.

Today, the Justice Minister issued an apology to the people of Cahersiveen in Co Kerry for the speed with which a direct provision centre was opened earlier this year.

Deputy O’Callaghan said: “The apology this morning is telling, in that it demonstrates the lack of planning that went into opening this direct provision centre. We have since learned that the centre suffered an outbreak of Covid-19 in mid-April with 25 people, including three staff members, infected with the virus. Greater planning would have reduced the risk of such an outbreak.

“The Minister correctly has issued an apology to the people of Kerry, but we need to remember that asylum seekers are among the most vulnerable in our society, often having fled war-torn countries. They also deserve to be treated with more respect and value on their lives.

“The Minister explained that in early March, the justice department realised that they needed new centres and quickly. The COVID-19 pandemic is a learning curve for everyone involved but it should not allow for complacency when dealing with vulnerable members of society such as asylum seekers.

“We need to make sure that these direct provision centres are fit for purpose and should not be opened if not acceptable. This case in Kerry is a clear example of the failure to follow adequate safety measures and careful planning,” concluded Deputy O’Callaghan.