Statement by the Department of Justice and Equality regarding East End Hotel, Portarlington
4 January, 2020
The Department’s attention has been drawn to a video circulating on social media purporting to document the accommodation arrangements in place for international protection applicants at the East End Hotel.
The Department has been informed that this video does not represent the reality at this facility. Hotel management has informed the Department that last night, a number of residents moved themselves from their assigned rooms into the room shown in the video. The footage circulating appears to have been staged and the residents involved have been asked to return to their allocated rooms.
Similar claims were made about the accommodation in the hotel last Autumn and subsequent Department inspections confirmed that the accommodation arrangements at the hotel had been misrepresented in a staged video at that time.
The Department is available at all times to address any concerns that residents have. It should be noted that applicants availing of accommodation services may also avail of the services of the Ombudsman who the Department works with to resolve any issues that arise.
The East End Hotel is one of a number where accommodation is being provided on a short term basis to international protection applicants while places are being sourced in dedicated accommodation centres. A number of former residents in the hotel were transferred to the newly opened centre in Ennis before Christmas. The Department continues to work assiduously to relocate applicants from hotels and guesthouses to accommodation in dedicated centres.
The need for emergency accommodation arose after a sharp rise in applications for international protection (an increase of 60% in 2019).
Emergency accommodation is not representative of the overall system of accommodation offered to applicants. The most recent accommodation centres to open provide own door self catering accommodation.
The East End Hotel is providing accommodation for 71 asylum seekers across a total of 19 bedrooms on an emergency basis. No room being utilised by the Department in the hotel has an occupancy greater than 6 persons.
As always, the Department would encourage any resident to inform us of any issues that may arise regarding their accommodation. This allows us to work directly with the resident, and the accommodation provider, to resolve the issue as quickly as possible.
Notes to Editors
The East End Hotel has been contracted by the Department since May 2019 to provide accommodation for international protection applicants on an emergency basis because our existing accommodation centres are full. The Department acknowledges that the use of hotels and guesthouses on an emergency basis is an unsatisfactory situation as it does not allow us to provide the full range of services and supports that our accommodation centres provide. That is why we are working hard to increase capacity and to open more accommodation centres as we have done recently in Borrisokane, in Ballinamore and in Ennis.
A number of residents from the East End Hotel were offered and accepted transfers to the new Ennis accommodation centre before Christmas. This centre provides independent living arrangements where residents can cook their own food and obtain their groceries in an onsite food hall. A number of other residents from the hotel refused the offer and are making alternative arrangements for their own accommodation, as they are entitled to do.