Residents of the Two Gateway asylum centre in East Wall Dublin have told Gript that they are experiencing ‘intimidation’ at the hands of what they said are “mafia” like elements living in the IPAS facility.
During an exclusive interview with Gript the father and daughter – who for fear of retaliation have asked that their identities be concealed – said that they are being subjected to ‘intimidatory tactics’ by males of Georgian and Algerian origin.
The pair say they arrived in Ireland in May 2022 and were initially accommodated at the Red Cow asylum centre before being moved to the Crowne Plaza.
They explained that after months of what they described as ‘leering’, ‘laughing’, ‘jeering’, and ‘threatening behaviour’ they were moved from the Crowne Plaza, to the East Wall complex, only to find that two of their chief tormentors had also been moved to East Wall prior to their own transfer.
After moving to the East Wall asylum facility they say the harassment continued.
The father, who says he is desperate to escape the direct provision system and has taken up work to earn money to allow him to do so, described having to accompany his daughter ‘everywhere within the facility’ and that she sends him messages when she is done using the bathroom or showering facilities to make sure she is never alone within the centre.
He says he has been sending emails to IPAS about the ongoing situation since September regarding the intimidation, but that replies have stopped coming.
He said he had hoped that once his daughter enrolled in school and was seen wearing her uniform that the leering and harassment – which is alleged to be of a sexual nature -towards her by the men would cease, but that it only ‘got worse’.
The pair allege that conditions within the building are poor and that there are only five showers available to male residents forcing many to use sinks in the toilets to wash and that due to there being ‘no light’ in the shower room, men are showering with the external doors left open where women and children pass by.
They say there was no hot water in the showers for the first two weeks of January this year.
It was also said that because the facility has only four washing machines and four dryers, they have been getting up to wash their clothes at 4am in the morning.
They allege that the pods within the building are secured with “magnetic locks” which can be easily breached and ‘shoved open’ and that the walls of the partitions do not reach the ceiling on all sides allowing anyone on a bunk bed to easily peer into or gain access to another pod.
Gript previously asked Minister Roderic O’Gorman for clarification on whether the walls of individual pods reach the ceiling. We were told that “All accommodation is self-contained”, and that, “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. Each room or pod has integrated locks and there are security personnel on each floor at all times.”
It was also alleged by the residents of the centre that as few as five security guards are present in the building. A single security guard is alleged to be responsible for monitoring up to 100 CCTV screens.
Several sources from both within and outside the facility have told Gript that drug use is rife with gangs of young men smoking marijuana in the parking lot area under the asylum centre. This parking lot is conjoined to the parking facility used by the residents of the Lighthouse Apts. which is situated only metres from the Two Gateway building.
The residents of the East Wall asylum centre also allege that a large group of single males numbering approximately 400 have been moved to the facility, and that despite this there has been no increase in the number of security guards within the centre. They said that security personnel were “afraid” of the “mafia” like elements and were too few in number to intervene effectively when trouble erupts.
When asked why they chose to seek asylum in Ireland, the father said that they had left their homeland due to high levels of ‘criminality’ and that they had initially hoped to live in Spain but had been discouraged by the ‘lack of application processing structure’ and “racism” he says they experienced in the three months they spent there.
He said because of the long waiting times for processing asylum applications in Spain he was forced to work illegally in order to gather enough money to move on.
He said he was attracted to Ireland by the prospect of being able to ‘live legally’ and thought it would be a safe place for his daughter.
Asked whether in hindsight they would have come to Ireland they answered “no”, and that they should have stayed in Spain.
When asked how they felt about the ongoing protests being held in response to unprecedented numbers of international protection applicants flooding into Ireland, the father said that although Irish people have been ‘very nice, pleasant, and helpful’ to him and his daughter, he “understands” why there is growing concern saying that he believes that many of the young males living at the East Wall asylum centre ‘just smoke weed all day’.
He also alleged that some of these young men are involved in the drug trade.
He said that, in his opinion, 70% of international protection applicants he has personally encountered wish to live off the state and that such individuals give people who wish to become independent and support themselves ‘a bad name’.
He also said that ambulances are called to the centre on a regular basis in relation to non serious incidents as some residents do not wish to pay for taxis to access medical attention.
It was alleged that a Lebanese resident of the centre who was recording a video for her own safety while moving through the building had her phone snatched by a member of security who deleted the video.
It was also alleged that a female resident was advised to delete a video she had made of an altercation she had over the use of washing machines with a male resident ‘for her own safety’.
The residents also allege that occupants of the centre are banned from making video calls or live streams and that the wifi has been set to not support same.
In previous correspondence to Gript IPAS stated that the, “health and wellbeing of all people who avail of accommodation provided by the International Protection Accommodation Service (IPAS) is of the highest priority to the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth.”
And that residents are “encouraged to engage with IPAS if they are unhappy with any aspect of their accommodation.”
It was also claimed 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, “has resulted in positive outcomes and a large majority of residents are happy with the services and the location.”
Gript made enquiries to IPAS management in regards to the allegations made by the residents of the East Wall centre we spoke to in relation to this report, however at the time of publication we are yet to receive a response.
We also contacted the manager of the Two Gateway asylum centre but received no reply.