The results of a series of inspections at the Eyre Powell asylum centre in Newbridge, obtained by the Leinster Leader, show there has been on-going insues concerning nutrition and fire safety since 2010. The recent protest of 44 refugees at the Eyre Powell Asylum Centre in Newbridge over poor hygiene, lack of basic provisions, poor food supplies, staff behaviour and the management system prompted a Freedom of Information request by the Leinster Leader into all inspections carried out between 2010 and 2011 at the former hotel.
The inspections were carried out either by the RIA - the government’s Reception and Integration Agency - or by an independent inspector under contract to the RIA called QTS Limited, over the year and a half period from May 18, 2010 to December 14, 2011.
The main areas of concern raised by the inspections involved issues with food safety, fire safety, nutrition -with only one meat option offered on the lunch menu -and overcrowed and unclean bedrooms, with “dirty walls”, an infestation of cockroaches and numerous missing fire notices.
Although all issues were raised with the centre after each inspection, there were several delays in responding back to the RIA from centre management - up to six months in one case. However once a response was made most of the issues raised were deemed to be dealt with. In the timeframe concerned, only one inspector was approached by a resident and never by a member of staff at the centre.
The inspections carried out by the RIA, or on its behalf in 2010, found “no evidence of food safety training received by chef”, that there were insufficient food options for the lunch time menu as there was only only one option of meat served.
There was also a lack of fire notices in the nine of the 34 rooms, it was found during one 2010 inspection, and the report advised a fire drill at night.
There were no Hygiene Audits carried out, except for Environmental Health Officer inspections.
There was a “good improvement in the Food Safety Management System” recorded since the previous inspection however in the dining area it was noted that the walls need cleaning, there were suspended ceiling tiles missing, that table cloths were torn and need to be replaced, and that there was dampness in the corner of dining room.
The first inspection for 2011 took place a month after a fire had broken out on May 2 of that year.
The inspector noted that “no prior nightime drill [was] carried out”, but that there was “staff and 90 residents in the building at the time and they evacuated it in 3 minutes’.
Other issues raised in the report included the lack of fire notices in rooms, and the fact that there was still only one meat option on the lunch menu. However, it was noted that “residents did not complain”.
The inspector in this inspection described “a very high standard of accomodation at the centre” adding that fire safety was maintained at a “very high standard” also. And by the end of year inspection in 2011 there were “two main options available at lunch time”. However, the RIA House Rules were still not on display at the Eyre Powell.
However, the inspector recorded that the Means of Escape inspections schedule (which concern Fire Safety) was not fully up to date and should be recorded in the register on a regular basis. Neither was the fire detection and alarm system fully up to date and it was noted that this should be recorded in the register on a regular basis
There were no fire notices in 16 rooms one of which had six occupants while a room with a hole in the ceiling was “to be repaired”.
It was also noted that the last time the premises had been inspected by an Environmental Health Officer was on August 12, 2009.
Meanwhile the RIA also operated a system of Information Clinics for residents to bring any issues to attention in the Eyre Powell on a bi-annual basis during this same period.