By Joe Barrett.
Testing of those residing and working in the four facilities that accommodate asylum seekers and refugees in Laois should be carried out immediately.
That was the demand from Laois Fianna Fáil TD Seán Fleming.
He said that there is excess unused testing capacity in Laois and that it made sense for it to be used to test everyone in The Montague Hotel in Emo, The Hibernian Hotel in Abbeyleix, The East End Hotel in Portarlington and the Commercial Inn in Rathdowney.
‘One way to protect all these people is to carry out routine testing.’
Deputy Fleming said: “We know there have been outbreaks and clusters of COVID-19 in some Direct Provision Centres putting both the residents and the employees at risk. One way to protect all these people is to carry out routine testing and to do so on an ongoing basis.
“The capacity is there. There are some testing centres lying idle across the country. Laois has excess unused capacity and there are plenty of healthcare professionals who are ready and waiting to carry out tests.
“The Minister needs to direct the testing of all Direct Provision residents and employees immediately.”
Four Centres in Laois
There are two Direct Provision Centres in Laois – The former Montague Hotel in Emo and the former Hibernian Hotel in Abbeyleix. The former East End Hotel in Portarlington and The Commercial Inn in Rathdowney also accommodate asylum seekers in Emergency Direct Provision Centres. The latter two centres are used for short-term stays until the residents are found accommodation in Direct Provision Centres elsewhere which are long stay facilities with some residing in these facilities in excess of 10 years, before their asylum status is adjudicated on. It is estimated that up to 350 people live in these centres in Laois, many of them children.