Department of Justice says Cahersiveen direct provision centre originally had a planned capacity for 300 residents

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The Department of Justice says the Cahersiveen premises offered for direct provision originally had a planned capacity for 300 residents. 

The former Skellig Star Hotel opened as a centre for asylum seekers in March, as part of the department’s emergency response to the coronavirus pandemic. 

A number of COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in the centre since.

Direct provision centre residents were moved to the former Skellig Star Hotel in March. 

The local community and public representatives were informed of the move only days in advance, with local media being told in January there were no plans to move residents to Cahersiveen. 

The Department of Justice had said the March move was part of its response to the current pandemic. 

However, documentation obtained by Radio Kerry in a Freedom of Information Act request contradicts this.  

Internal correspondence between department officials shows the centre was offered as a direct provision centre in September of last year by Paul Collins of Remcoll Ltd. along with an acknowledgment that the centre would be in his possession within three weeks. 

The department also said that the entire premises was offered at that time; this consisted of a 68-bedroom hotel and a further 36×2 bedroom apartments, bringing the potential capacity to 300 residents.

 However, the apartments require refurbishment.

 While the apartments to the rear of the hotel are not being availed of currently, documents show that the contractor indicated in October 2019 his preference for it to become a permanent centre in the first quarter of this year.

 Agreement was also reached in principle between the department and Remcoll Ltd. to have the hotel available for the November 4th, 2019.