This morning, local Sinn Féin candidate, Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire, claimed on Twitter that he had been prevented from accessing a Direct Provision centre in Cork in order to canvass residents. The centre houses 152 asylum seekers, each of whom (over the age of 18 years) has the right to vote in local elections.
Mr Ó Laoghaire later alleged that he had been told by centre staff that the decision was based on a “Ministerial directive” and that the state-owned centre has been designated a “neutral zone,” where no political activity is permitted.
He subsequently tweeted that he had telephoned the Reception and Integration Agency (RIA), the Department of Justice and Equality’s state agency with responsibility for reception and accommodation centres where asylum seekers and victims of trafficking are housed in Ireland.
Rang RIA.Confirmed that its a policy not to allow Canvassers in. Has to be kept ‘politically neutral’ zone. Decision by Director I’m told
He claims he was told that this was a nation-wide policy, not confined to the centre in Cork.
I telephoned RIA, the Department of Justice and Equality, and the accommodation centre to enquire about Mr Ó Laoghaire’s claims.