Minister says he wasn’t told of Dublin hotel COVID-19 case before Caherciveen asylum seeker move

The Justice Minister says he’s disappointed he wasn’t informed that COVID-19 was present in a Dublin hotel from where asylum seekers were sent to Caherciveen.

Charlie Flanagan has issued an apology to the people of Caherciveen over the handling of the direct provision centre in the former Skellig Star Hotel.

He says the centre has caused upset and controversy due to the manner of its opening and an outbreak of COVID-19 among residents and staff.

Minister Charlie Flanagan says he wrote the open letter as he was concerned at the upset and anger in Caherciveen; the letter didn’t address residents of the direct provision centre as they were previously apologised to.

Minister Flanagan admits mistakes were made and matters were rushed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the need to reduce the numbers of asylum seekers in centres.

He’s disappointed that he and the Department of Justice weren’t informed of a case of COVID-19 in the Travel Lodge in Dublin from where people were sent to Caherciveen.

Minister Flanagan says he is keen that communities and his Department work together and accepts there was a breakdown in that relationship in this case:



In a statement on behalf of the residents issued to Radio Kerry by Azwar Fuard, an asylum seeker living in the former Skellig Star hotel, they thank the Minister for accepting the move was wrong.

They want to know what health guidance the Department of Justice followed before moving people.

Mr Fuard says there has been lots of depression among residents in the centre who are worried about their lives.

Meanwhile, Kerry Sinn Fein TD Pa Daly is welcoming the apology from Minister Charlie Flanagan but added that action is now needed to ensure that residents have appropriate self-contained accommodation.

Deputy Daly says the centre should be closed as he believes it is not fit for purpose.