A new direct provision centre is to open in Ennis and will house up to 64 single residents.
Following a recent refurbishment, Clare Lodge is to reopen its doors at the end of the month to the first of the asylum seekers with the remainder arriving on a phased basis. The Department of Justice have confirmed the plans for Clare’s third direct provision centre with a contract signed last Thursday.
From 2001 to 2009, Clare Lodge which is located on the Mill Rd was an accommodation centre for asylum seekers and it will once again fulfil the same function. A spokesperson for the Department of Justice has said the centre will include cooking facilities and an on-site food hall where groceries can be purchased.
Bridgestock Care Ltd who run centres in Sligo and Mayo will operate the Ennis facility where they are expected to employ fifteen people.
Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality, David Stanton expressed his confidence that the people of Clare would continue to be “warm and welcoming” when the county’s newest residents arrive.
On Tuesday morning, five of the seven Ennis Municipal District councillors attended a briefing with Clare County Council officials, Bridgestock Care Ltd and their officials where integration was the main concern highlighted by the elected representatives. Elected representatives visited Clare Lodge on Wednesday afternoon.
They were informed at the briefing that no prior public consultation had taken place prior to the signing of the contract last week and that the Direct Provision residents will be able to apply for work within nine months.
To actively promote integration initiatives and opportunities, a Residents Support Officer will be appointed. The Department of Justice has confirmed a Friends of the Centre will be established within the centre.
In a statement to The Clare Echo, Dr. Michael Harty (IND) commended the Department for their choice of location. “Clare Lodge is a good high-quality building in centre of town, with sufficient capacity, close to dental and medical services and with social, education and transport services centrally available”.
“Just as in Lisdoonvarna and Miltown Malbay there are people of goodwill and ability in Ennis who will step up to the plate to make the newcomers welcome. This initiative aims to bring residents, community and voluntary groups together with a view to increasing integration opportunities. There seems to be a growing recognition in the Department of Justice that civil servants do not have all the answers and there is a reservoir of kindness and hospitality in every community which brings out our better nature,” the Clare TD added.