Irish Family Michelle and Patrick O’Brien and their seven children, aged between three and 14, have been homeless for a year since June 2018 and say they are now “weary and hopeless”. This came after the Banagher hotel manager asked them on Monday to leave the hotel, as he was taking in asylum seekers instead!
The Tullamore, County Offaly, family was initially placed in a hotel there. In early May, however, Offaly County Council moved them to a hotel in Banagher, County Offaly, almost 40km and a 40-minute drive from the children’s schools.
Michelle spent much of Monday in County Council offices in Tullamore, as they attempted to source other accommodation. Around 5pm, while some family members were preparing to sleep in their car and others in a Garda station, she was told the Peter McVerry Trust had found a hotel in Trim, Co Meath, for them until Thursday. A receipt shown by Michelle, indicated this accommodation cost €260.25 per night. How much was the hotel owner getting for the refugee accommodation? More?
By Thursday morning, the charity was inquiring about hotels for that night even further afield in Laois, Tipperary and Westmeath.
“They called me about 2pm and said they had a hotel for us in Mullingar, until Monday, and a €30 voucher for diesel. I don’t know what we are going to do after,” Michelle said on Thursday evening.
“We came back to Tullamore this morning for school and a GP appointment. Now we are going to Mullingar. We’re tired now at this stage. It’s awful.”
While the younger children are not showing sign of the trauma and “kind of getting on with it”, the older ones “are struggling”.
“There are no child-protection concerns in relation to the parenting the children are receiving”, the social worker said, describing Michelle as an “extremely dedicated and determined parent to her children”.
Their five-year-old son was born with a diaphragmatic hernia, meaning there is a hole in his diaphragm causing breathing problems. He has problems swallowing, as well as behavioural difficulties which Michelle says have been exacerbated in the past year.
“Suitable residence” not a home?
The parents would be “better able to care for their children in the long term if they had a suitable residence with basic services”, the TUSLA social worker wrote, asking if “an immediate plan can be put in place in respect of the family’s housing circumstances”.
A spokeswoman for the Peter McVerry Trust said she could not comment on the family’s case. Emergency accommodation would ordinarily be sourced in one place, pending the identification of a suitable housing unit, she said.
However, this was not always possible due to factors such as family size and the availability of appropriate emergency accommodation, “particularly during the holiday season”.
The trust was working with 160 families in 14 local authority areas, including County Offaly, she said. Offaly County Council said it could not comment on an individual case.
As of June 16th, according to the Department of Justice, 817 alleged asylum seekers are being accommodated in hotels and B&Bs around the country “on a nightly basis”.
In all, 6,120 asylum seekers are in direct provision centres and given that less than 10% of asylum seekers are genuine, it is clear that if Ireland deported failed asylum seekers, this would not be a problem…
Watch: Ireland does NOT deport failed asylum seekers: