Last week, Gript visited the Lighthouse apartment complex in the much-talked-about East Wall area of Dublin.
Many readers will be aware of the ongoing protests about the establishment of a direct provision centre ‘overnight’ in an office building called Two Gateway which, until only a few months ago, was occupied by the ESB.
Residents of the Lighthouse building, which is about 20 metres behind the office building turned migrant centre, told Gript that one day they witnessed bedding being brought inside, only a matter of hours before bus loads of migrants started to arrive.
Gript contacted East Wall constituency representative Minister Paschal Donohoe, and Minister Roderic O’Gorman who is responsible for the establishment of the centre, to ask them what steps they are taking to address the various safety concerns of the Lighthouse residents due to the establishment of the refugee centre where many of the residents are undocumented.
While we are yet to receive an answer from minister Donohoe, a media representative of minister O’Gorman wrote to inform us that the facility is now housing 373 migrants claiming that this number “is mainly comprised of families, along with couples and single females and males”.
The claim that the occupants of the facility “is mainly comprised of families” runs contrary to accounts given by the Lighthouse residents to Gript.
The response did not address the questions asked by Gript which specifically referred to the the concerns of the Lighthouse residents, but stated that, “Since the International Protection applicants arrived in the Two Gateway accommodation centre in East Wall, the operator has proactively engaged with the residents” and that this “resulted in positive outcomes and a large majority of residents are happy with the services and the location.”
Members of the Lighthouse residents group, who had previously gained access into the Two Gateway building, expressed their concern at the nature of the partitions used in the office space saying that, because they do not reach the ceiling, female residents within the DP centre have expressed their concern over risks to their privacy while changing clothes etc. should male residents try to photograph or film over the partitions.
Minister O’Gorman’s office denied that this was the case saying “the rooms and pods reach a height of 2.5m, therefore it is not possible for residents to overlook into a neighbouring pod or room”, however images obtained by Gript show that the partitions – at least in part – do not reach the ceiling and therefore it is possible from them to be overlooked, particularly because at least some of the ‘pods’ contain bunk beds.
It was also claimed that there are ”security personnel on each floor at all times”, however Gript understands that 8 – 10 personnel are patrolling the whole facility, and that in the event of an incident, they are not legally permitted to detain a suspect until law enforcement arrives.
It was also claimed by minister O’Gorman’s office that IPAS Accommodation centres are “subject to regular inspections” and are “required to provide valid fire safety certificates prior to any contract being awarded”.
It was further claimed that the EastWall Accommodation centre “has provided all of the necessary certification.” However, Dublin Fire Brigade confirmed to Gript that the Two Gateway building does not currently hold a fire certificate for the purposes of functioning as a ‘refugee centre’.