There have been reports that there has been an infestation of rodents and cockroaches, and a slug found within food served at a direct provision centre last month. A horrified Meath West, Aontú TD, Peadar Tóibín, asked Minister Roderic O’Gorman to confirm if these reports were true, the Minister did not refute these allegations.

O’Gorman gave a written reply to Tóibín: “I am aware of reports that circulate on media and social media regarding the presence of vermin in some accommodation centres for International Protection applicants. My Department officials are also made aware of occasional incidences by the centre management. The Deputy will appreciate that, as with any premises whether residential or otherwise, there is always the possibility of intrusion by vermin”.

O’Gorman also noted that there are inspectors and if there is any evidence of a cockroach or rodent infestation, residents will be moved to another room.

Speaking on the topic, Deputy Tóibín stated: “The admission from the government that there are rodent infestations in Direct Provision centres and that there has been an incident where an asylum seeker was served food which had slugs in it confirms what many of us have been saying all along – the system is cruel and unfit for purpose.

“I understand a certain company was previously engaged by the government in the running of Direct Provision centres. I have written to the Minister to seek clarity as to whether or not the contract with this particular company is still in place.

The company in question separately provides the food in some US prisons and has come under the spotlight there following reports of maggot-contaminated food being served to prisoners. What does it say about the system here if the same company engaged in running prisons in America were contracted by the Irish government to run Direct provision centres?”