Hunger strike at Skellig Star Hotel Direct Provision called off

Hunger strike at Skellig Star Hotel Direct Provision called off

"We are filled with joy now"

A three-day hunger strike taken by residents of a controversial Direct Provision Centre in Cahersiveen has been called off, after Minister for Justice Helen McEntee confirmed this afternoon that residents will be moved out "as soon as spaces can be found".

Speaking to JOE this evening, a resident confirmed that the strike has been "suspended...based on the words of the Minister of Justice".

Over 30 residents began their hunger strike on Tuesday of this week, citing "inhumane" living conditions, and reiterating their desire to be moved out of the Skellig Star Hotel.

The emergency centre in Cahersiveen was the site of a significant Covid-19 cluster in April, after residents were transferred to the Kerry location from multiple Direct Provision centres without prior testing.

Speaking in the Seanad this afternoon, Minister McEntee said that she takes the residents concerns "very seriously", and that "when a group of people feel they need to put their health at risk by refusing food, I am, of course, required to listen their grievances."

 Government officials visited the Skellig Star earlier this week, and the Minister said they were "satisfied that residents have access to clean, safe drinking water and meals", but she was "conscious that residents still have concerns and any outstanding issues are being followed up for resolution as a matter of priority."

She also confirmed that the transfers would begin next week;

"Our policy is always to withdraw from emergency accommodation as quickly as possible and in particular to ensure that families spend as short a period as possible in such accommodation.

"My officials will be implementing that policy in relation to Cahersiveen. Places for the first families are currently being identified and moves for them will be completed by the end of next week.

"Other residents in the centre will be moved to permanent accommodation as soon as spaces can be found. This process will be completed in a relatively short period of time and no more than a few months."

One resident said simply that they are "filled with joy now".