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Residents “not safe” after COVID outbreak at Killarney Direct Provision Centre

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By Sean Moriarty and Michelle Crean

 

The COVID-19 outbreak at the Atlas House Direct Provision Centre on Park Road is a result of the Government’s lack of action, Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland (MASI) claimed this week.

Earlier this week 25 residents of Atlas House tested positive for the virus. They have since been transferred to specialist isolation units in Cork and Dublin.

MASI say that they have been warning the Government since last April that Direct Provision Centres are "not safe" as residents cannot properly social-distance in such facilities.

The group say that they are concerned at the ongoing outbreaks of COVID-19 in Direct Provision Centres where people are unable to observe all the public health guidelines due to the sharing of intimate living spaces such as bedrooms, bathrooms, canteens, and other facilities with strangers.

At the start of the pandemic, MASI called on the Department of Justice to provide single rooms for single asylum seekers and self-contained units for families. The department, they say, rejected this call and insisted that people keep sharing bedrooms and communal bathrooms.

The prolonged lockdown has also had a negative impact on asylum seekers, particularly children in Direct Provision who are terrified of communal spaces and have had to spend a lot of time in bedrooms.

A MASI spokesperson, who is also coordinating the group of affected Killarney residents, said as many as three people are sharing rooms in Atlas House.

“They are sharing rooms with strangers,” Lucky Khambule, a South African former asylum seeker and co-founder of MASI, told the Killarney Advertiser.

“I have been in contact with the residents of Atlas House,” he added. “They are very scared. There are people dying from this and once you test positive you have no idea how your body will react. That is why they are scared. There is continuous over-crowding in these places, they share wash and cooking facilities, it is the exact opposite to what is happening outside. We warned, last April, that this would happen. Everything has been done wrong but our cries are not taken seriously.”

The Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth this week said in a statement issued to the Killarney Advertiser that it does not comment on specific COVID-19 cases or outbreaks.

“The health and well-being of all residents during the pandemic remains the highest priority for this Department. To that end a wide range of measures have been put in place across the accommodation network to address any COVID-19 related issues should they arise. These measures were implemented in collaboration with the HSE and informed by regional public health officials and infection control teams. Where off-site isolation is deemed necessary, a resident is moved to the off-site facility and supported while there. The Department will continue to work with the HSE and the Department of Health in the best interests of all residents whilst we remain in the midst of this unprecedented pandemic.”

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Artists invited to showcase work at Wine and Art night

It’s back – and not before time – the hugely popular Killarney Rotary Club evening of Wine and Art will return this November. The pandemic enforced its absence and now […]

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It’s back – and not before time – the hugely popular Killarney Rotary Club evening of Wine and Art will return this November.

The pandemic enforced its absence and now every effort is being made to make up for lost time.

Widely regarded as one of the social highlights of the year in Killarney, this year’s gathering will take place in the Great Southern Killarney on Wednesday, November 30, commencing at 7.15pm.

Tickets, which will be available at the door, are priced at €20 and all proceeds raised on the night will go to deserving local charities and community organisations.

Over the years the evening of wine and art has raised tens of thousands of Euro for great causes and the 2022 proceeds will be of enormous benefit to the chosen groups.

This year, once again, the event is being held in association with Daly’s SuperValu and supported by Killarney Brewing and Distilling Company.

Rotary Club President, Rayla Tadjimatova, has appealed to all artists who might like to showcase their work on the night to get in touch with club members, as soon as possible, to guarantee inclusion.

“We are reaching out not only to artists who have supported the event in the past but to any new artists who wish to take the opportunity to place their work in front of a very appreciative local audience of up to one thousand people on the night,” she said.

Those interested should email killarneyrotaryclub@gmail.com as soon as possible.

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Gardai seek whereabouts of missing Kerry teen

Gardaí are asking the public for their help in locating a 15-year-old teenager. Nicolas O’Sullivan has been missing from Ballyvelly, Tralee, since Monday (October 3). He is described as being […]

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Gardaí are asking the public for their help in locating a 15-year-old teenager.

Nicolas O’Sullivan has been missing from Ballyvelly, Tralee, since Monday (October 3).

He is described as being approximately 6ft in height, of a slim build with brown hair and green eyes. When last seen Nicolas was wearing grey tracksuit bottoms and a black hoody top. He was also carrying a black bag.

Anyone with information on Nicolas’ whereabouts is asked to contact Tralee Garda Station on 066 710 2300, the Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666 111, or any Garda Station.

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