Direct provision residents on hunger strike 'traumatised' by Covid-19 outbreak

A hunger strike at a direct provision centre in Co Kerry is being described as the "final action" by residents.

Some 32 residents of the former Skellig Star Hotel in Cahersiveen began the strike at 10am this morning, to highlight their request to be moved from the centre.

One resident of the centre on the strike says he is "traumatised" by an outbreak of Covid-19 there, after more than 20 cases of Covid-19 were confirmed at the centre earlier this year.

The man, living with his wife and son, says the accommodation is not suitable: “We want to recover from this, but we have gone through a very hard time. We are traumatised – mentally and psychologically.

“We are facing a challenge situation, so we want to recover from this, so we need to be moved to a place where we can have access to a social worker, medical facilities.”

The resident, from Sri Lanka, says only seven children and people on medication are not fasting among the 41 residents: “We had to go for a final action of hunger strikes, so at least now they will understand how important this request is... nobody is eating here.”

The strike comes as residents say their concerns have not been taken seriously, while the Department of Justice has said it will investigate the situation at the centre.

The current Programme for Government has committed to abolishing the system of Direct Provision.