Asylum seekers protest at Clonakilty Lodge claiming they were not told of minister's visit

Signs placed on the doors of the Clonakilty Lodge direct provision centre as part of a protest by residents
By Noel Baker
Senior Reporter and Social Affairs Correspondent

A protest is being held by asylum seekers at the Clonakilty Lodge facility this morning after residents claimed they were not told of a visit to the centre yesterday by the Minister of State for Equality, Immigration and Integration.

As many as 30 residents and their children have been in the foyer area and outside the building since early this morning amid claims that the visit yesterday by Minister David Stanton was not flagged in advance, with some residents absent during it.

Some children were kept back from school with residents holding homemade placards and putting signs on the entry doors bearing statements such as “what was the purpose of their visit?”, “why didn’t you inform the residents?” and “who is the minister for?”

One resident, Evelyn Adoga, who has been in the centre for more than two years, said: “We are on a peaceful protest today.

We got annoyed that the Minister for Immigration and Integration was here yesterday at the Lodge and we assumed that he came here to see people living here in the Lodge.

“But at the end of the day none of the residents were told.”

It’s understood the Minister did meet with some residents, but some of those protesting this morning said the event was “stage-managed” and claimed that a committee formed by residents were not invited to meet with Minister Stanton to share any issues or concerns they may have.

Ms Adoga, who said she has been granted asylum but who cannot find alternative accommodation, said housing was one of the issues residents wanted to raise.

“Some of the committee have been waiting to meet with him [the Minister] and TDs, especially about areas of childcare and education,” she said.

Some members of the gardaí have attended the scene to meet with residents, who have said they want to meet with management to address their concerns.

Other residents, who did not want to be named, said they had been living in the centre for different periods of time ranging up to eight years and that they also had personal issues they wanted to raise.

One resident said: “They painted the picture that they wanted the Minister to see.”

Local people have also attended in support of the residents with one stating: “People’s expectations were really mismanaged.”

It’s understood management are due to meet the residents shortly.

The Irish Examiner is seeking comment from the managers of the centre and the Minister’s office.

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