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Imminent closure of Balseskin Reception Centre, Dublin
Balseskin Reception Centre is a 380 bed accomodation centre for asylum seekers and their families in Finglas, north Dublin. It was purpose built some 5 years ago and has a well functioning medical unit, providing specialist health screening and medical care to the residents of the centre. However the centre is to be closed on ministerial orders, at short notice (next Friday) and without any consultation with staff in the HSE and the RIA (Reception and Integration Agency, Dept. of Justice). The 260 residents of the centre now have to be housed elsewhere. This will inevitably cause a disruption in medical care and infectious disease surveillance as no other specialist service for asylum seekers is available in Dublin city.
As also reported by the Noel Baker, Irish Examiner on 7/7/'06;
Balseskin Reception Centre for Asylum Seekers, Finglass, North Dublin is to be closed on Ministerial Orders. The Centre which presently houses 260 asylum seekers is to be vacated on 21/7/'06 (next Friday) as was communicated to staff only a few days ago. The Centre has a capacity of 380 people and was purpose built some 5 years ago to receive, house and medically screen and attend to asylum seekers and their children. It is the only purpose built accomodation centre in the country and as such has a a medical unit which is staffed by a specialised and experienced medical team, including nurse/midwifes to facilitate ante natal care on site (so as to relieve the Dublin maternity hospitals).
Apparently it is now to be changed into a facility for elderly patients being discharged from hospital, who need further rehabilitation and nursing care. As the centre in its present state is of course not suitable for this type of patients (100 in total), a major and costly refurbishment is to be carried out to adapt the facilities. However this is a waste of government resources as the centre is new and purpose built only 5 years ago.
260 asylum seekers and their children now have to be housed elsewhere around the country and the RIA had to advertised for alternative accomodation. Apart from the accomodation problem, many asylum seekers are in need of follow up of their medical treatment, specialist investigations, antenatal care, health screening and vaccinations. However, apart from Balseskin there are no other Accomodation Centres in Dublin providing specialised medical care to asylum seekers.
The Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) of the Dept. of Justice and the HSE were not consulted about the matter. The Principal Medical Officer and Senior Area Medical Officer for HSE Dublin NE were informed after the decision was made and the Director of Social Inclusion for the HSE Dublin NE is presently on annual leave and unaware of the situation.
Although the number of asylum seekers nationally has been falling over the past two years, it has now stabilised and is not dropping any further, Therefore there will be an ongoing need in Dublin and elsewhere for capacity to house and medically care for asylum seekers and their children. Balseskin, as an already existing and well functioning Reception Centre in North Dublin is therefore indispensible. Changing the use of this facility is a waste of tax payers money, apart from ignoring the needs of a vulnerable and already marginalised group of adults and children. Moreover caring and committed public servants in the HSE and the RIA can only come to the conclusion that the service they are providing is apparently of no importance to some politicians.