Human rights body warns of “discord” from overcrowding and “intense oppressive atmosphere” at main transit centre for refugees in Ireland

A human rights watchdog said there was an “intense oppressive atmosphere” with poor ventilation and constant noise at the country’s main transit centre for refugees.

An internal briefing document from the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) said residents at Citywest were being housed in a “cavernous, hangar-like area” with only partitions to separate beds.

Management there had said that once numbers being accommodated crept above 900, it had become increasingly difficult to manage tensions at the centre.

“Discord was much more likely,” said the briefing. “[Management] noted that it can be small issues escalating into a full scale riot.”

The atmosphere had been generally peaceful and harmonious, but significant disturbances had occurred, with the Muslim observation of Ramadan having been a “flashpoint” due to alternative sleep schedules.

The “information capture” report mentioned a serious incident that had included the use of knives, chairs being thrown, and other assaults.

The briefing report said: “Thirty five security guards on site and thirty five guards including [garda] riot squad. During one particular incident over Ramadan, [management] said it took them one and a half hours to get control back over the hub.”

It also said that there was “near daily” presence of international protection applicants who had not been given accommodation yet and had to be removed.

In one case, a refugee had tried to gain access by swimming through the lake outside the Citywest Convention Centre.