Some 30 asylum-seekers who will move into a newly refurbished accommodation centre in Ennis, Co Clare by Christmas will be welcomed with opened arms, according to a local senator.
The Clare Lodge, which operated as a Direct Provision Centre from 2001 until it was closed in 2009, has been re-modelled and fitted with on-site cooking facilities and an in-house grocery food hall that will allow residents to live more independently, according to the Department of Justice.
The facility is the third direct provision centre for asylum seekers in the county.
And despite protests in other communities around Ireland where direct provision or other accommodation centres for asylum-seekers have been staged, local Fine Gael Senator Martin Conway said he believes the new residents will be welcomed into the community.
“I have absolutely no doubt that they’ll get a great Clare welcome,” he told Independent.ie this evening.
The historic stone-facade building will accommodate 64 single adults with half arriving before Christmas and the remainder in the New Year.
Meanwhile, the Justice Department, which announced the re-opening of the centre earlier today, said it is “engaging with local elected representatives to ensure that they are fully informed about developments. Information will also be provided to the local community.”
“Direct Provision is a whole of government system of service provision and the Department of Justice and Equality is also working with other departments including the Department of Health, the Department of Education and Skills and the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection to ensure that the necessary services are in place to support the residents,” according to a statement from the department.
David Stanton, Minister of State with responsibility for Equality, Immigration and Integration, said:
“We are working to improve the standards in our Direct Provision Centres right across the State. I am very pleased that the Clare Lodge Accommodation Centre will provide independent living for residents with cooking facilities and an on-site food hall where groceries can be obtained.
“The people of Ennis were warm and welcoming to the residents of the previous accommodation centre that operated in the town and I look forward to the establishment of a Friends of the Centre Group which will help promote integration opportunities between residents and the local community.”