The Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) has renewed the management contract at the Eyre Powell asylum centre for a further six months. This is despite numerous issues at the asylum centre being highlighted in the past, including poor hygiene, lack of basic provisions, poor food supplies and staff behaviour.
The private contract, which was up last October, has been renewed with Cherryport Ltd, Inis Fail, Baltinglass, Co Wicklow until 30 April 2013 “consistent with the general demands on the RIA portfolio”, according to a statement from the RIA.
The most recent figures show that the RIA has paid €6.68 million of public monies to private contractor Cherryport Ltd to accomodate refugees at the Eyre Powell Hotel in Newbridge between 2003 and 2010.
Last July, the RIA admitted to the Lenister Leader that the concerns of the refugees resident in Newbridge “were neither surfaced nor addressed as quickly as they might have been”.
This came on foot of a protest letter sent from 44 resident refugees last April to the Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter, and the RIA about the stark reality of living at the Eyre Powell.
The Leader also revealed at the time that the issues in Eyre Powell “reinforced the need” for a redesign of the entire inspection system for refugee centres.
Promises were made at the time to improve staff training to identify more accurately issues of concern, publish inspections online and host regular information clinics with residents and it was reported recently to the Leinster Leader from a spokesperson for the refugees that ‘things had improved’ at the Eyre Powell since the summer.
Meanwhile QTS - an independent inspections company - had been asked to redesign the template form used by RIA staff in their inspections and to provide more detailed guidelines and training for its completion by RIA staff in the future.
The Minister, who passed all queries about the Eyre Powell to the RIA, declined to comment directly to the Leinster Leader. However, a response from his Press Office stated at the time that: “As a learning organisation, RIA believes that there is always room for improvement.”
The Eyre Powell Hotel houses up to 100 asylum seekers, and is located on Newbridge’s Main Street.