The future for residents at Lisbrook House on the Headford Road remains uncertain this week following Justice Minister Alan Shatter’s announcement that he would be reviewing the background circumstances relating to the decision to close the asylum seeker accommodation centre.
A spokesperson for the Department of Justice said this week that a “definitive time line” was not available in relation to the Minister’s consideration of the planned closure, which was to take place by the end of October.
The announcement that the 270 residents would be relocated to other centres around the country had prompted outrage last week, with representations made on behalf of residents by, amongst others, the school community of Scoil San Phrioinsias, Tirellan Heights.
In a letter seen by the Galway Independent, principal Mary Dillon said the school was shocked and dismayed at the proposed closure, highlighting that families with children attending the school had been given no previous warning that their accommodation would close at such short notice.
“Already in their lives many of these children have come through traumatic experiences and have settled into a stable lifestyle where the routines and familiarities of school life offer them a sense of security, friendship and family. Now it seems that they are to be displaced again,” she wrote.
Ms Dillon said the school has worked hard to source and timetable resources for a number of asylum seeker children, including English as an Additional Language teachers, Special Needs Assistants and Resource Teaching hours sanctioned by a Special Education Needs Officer.
“This involves months of work every year by our Special Education Needs (SEN) team in conjunction with parents, Educational Psychologists and Speech and Language Therapist. When these children move to a new school, it will take months again to put these services in place or maybe not at all. They will have lost out on valuable teaching experiences for this school year.
“Surely there must be a better way to implement this seemingly barbaric upheaval? The whole community surrounding Lisbrook House needs time to adjust to this closure and there must be a more humane way to deal with the lives of all these families,” wrote Ms Dillon.
Children attending Scoil San Phrioinsias were among the 200 demonstrators who marched from Eyre Square to the Spanish on Saturday in protest at the proposed closure of Lisbrook House.
The protest coincided with the celebration of Eyre Square’s 300 year anniversary and speaking following the event, campaigner Dette Mc Loughlin said, “It’s ironic that on a day when Galway City Council celebrated 300 years of Eyre Square being a public space with a multi-cultural music gig, that the Minister for Justice wants to exclude certain people from Galway, ‘The City of the Tribes’.”
She said the campaign would continue building support to keep Lisbrook House open, “giving the current residents a security of place in a community that they are now an integral part of”.