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In the midst of a pandemic, a group of asylum seekers were moved to a small town in rural Ireland. Then they began testing positive for Covid-19



In the midst of a pandemic, a group of asylum seekers were moved to a small town in rural Ireland. Then they began testing positive for Covid-19

He has been waiting for months to make a decision about asylum status. But the letter is not about that.

“I’m afraid for my life,” said Misha, who asked that her real name not be used because she feared it might have an impact on asylum claims.

Around 100 people in total were moved from several treatment centers, including from a hotel in Dublin where a guest from Italy was reported to have the virus.

Just a few days after they arrived, one resident began showing symptoms, according to three people who spoke with CNN. Then the rumors began.

“I’m afraid for my life.”


The Cahersiveen Community was given little time to prepare; locals only learned a few days before that the Skellig Star – rebuilt in 2006 with the promise of attracting tourists with swimming pools and other recreational facilities – was turned into accommodation for asylum seekers.

Although they lacked consultation and were afraid of losing business from the only big hotel in the city, the people in Cahersiveen welcomed the group, bringing them clothes and toys. But when news began to swirl that asylum seekers were sick, and still shopping at local shops, people in the small town began to panic.

“Rural Ireland will be pleased to have these people living in the community … they will be more than welcomed,” said Jack Fitzpatrick, chairman of the Cahersiveen Community and Business Alliance. “But this is not the way to do it, to get 100 people into a very crowded hotel in the middle of a pandemic.”

The outbreak, which quickly spread through hotels, infected 25 people at its peak, announced on May 20 by the Irish Health Services Executive (HSE), but locals and asylum seekers continued to urge the center to close, joining together as a united front in a series of demonstrations.

Under a system known as Direct Provision, it is overseen by the Irish Department of Justice and Equality and is operated by private businesses lucrative contract, asylum seekers are placed in emergency accommodation while they wait to find out whether they will be granted refugee status and permission to stay in the country.
The call for system reform, which was initially introduced as an emergency measure by the state in Indonesia 1999 after a sudden increase in asylum applications, coinciding with sweeping, global protests for racial justice after the murder of George Floyd in the US.
Asylum seekers – many of them from African countries – have condemned the Direct Provisions for “institutionalized racism” on the part of the government, arguing that no one else in the country is treated the same way as them.
While their applications are being assessed, they are given free accommodation, food and utilities, and have access to health and education services, but they have almost no autonomy and cannot choose their place of residence. And they unable to apply for a work permit up to at least eight months into their application process – expected to survive with a weekly allowance of € 38.80 ($ 43) instead.
Commenting on the comparison between Direct Conditions and George Floyd’s assassination earlier this month, Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar recognize that while some Direct Supply accommodations are below standard and need to be changed, it “is ultimately a service offered by the state … involving people who are provided with free accommodation, food, heat, lighting, health care, education, and also some spending money. “

“It’s not the same as a man who was killed by the police.”

Decisions on asylum cases in Ireland can take years, a fact which has been criticized by United Nations Refugee Agency, which has recently called for a process to be accelerated. And the rejection rate is high – around 70%, according to the latest figure. Tens of people died waiting, according to the Freedom of Information request Irish Catholic.

Not suitable for purpose

Ireland Fianna failedFine Gael and Green Party drafted an agreement to form a new coalition government on Monday, which, if ratified by three party members, would end months of political deadlock since the country’s elections in February. It will also inject urgency to reform the Irish asylum system. One of the main commitments spelled out in the agreement is a promise to end Direct Provision and replace it with an accommodation policy that is centered on a non-profit approach.

Liam Thornton, law lecturer and Direct Procurement expert, welcomed the decision with cautious optimism. “After 20 years plus the government’s refusal that there are many mistakes, it is interesting to see,” he told CNN. “Even though we have never been here before, that implementation will be key.”

Thornton tweeted: “Direct Provision is one of the darkest chapters in the history of the Department of Justice. But it takes people to design, manage, implement such atrocities. A new mindset requires ASAP.”

Asylum seekers, human rights campaigners and legal experts such as Thornton say the pandemic has highlighted structural problems that have long existed in the asylum system in Ireland. Against the background of Covid-19, conditions that are often overcrowded and worse become far more real.

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“HSE has advised us, and everyone, about social distance, but you cannot get social distance where there is no space,” Misha said.

“We share a bedroom with strangers. We share a dining room. We share a salt shaker. We share a lobby. We share everything. And if you look at the whole situation, you cannot say that it is suitable for the purpose.”

Skellig Star residents, locked in the center during quarantine, singing

Misha said she watched in horror as people began to fall ill around her, before being pulled into the emergency isolation room. The first suspected case of Covid-19 at the center was reported on March 24, the Department of Justice has admitted, adding that the person was not stated positive. They did not say when the test was carried out.

According to asylum seekers and previous managers, asylum seeker testing does not begin until the following week in mid-April. After the positive case was confirmed, all residents at Skellig Star were ordered to remain in quarantine.

“I have verifiable evidence of a written communication from Skellig Star to the Department of Justice and Equality on March 24 that confirmed the alleged Covid-19 case. The concerned citizen was placed in isolation on March 20, one day after his arrival at Cahersiveen,” Member of Parliament for Kerry, Norma Foley, said deeply special parliamentary committee hear the Covid-19 government’s response.

“The timeline may not be important for HSE or the Department of Justice and Equality but it is very important for the residents of Skellig Star and the Cahersiveen community. This timeline confirms clearly that Covid-19 was transported by bus on March 18 and March 19 to Skellig Star and the Cahersiveen community. “

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In a statement to CNN regarding the timeline, the Department said it had made an “honest mistake” for failing to receive March 24 communication and that “there was no attempt by the Department … to intentionally mislead or hide facts” related to the outbreak.

“Our biggest fear is the second wave … We fear it will spread like wildfire in a hotel again, but next time it might also pass through the community.”

Jack Fitzpatrick

After her roommate was stated positive and taken to isolate herself in another center, Misha thought that someone would move her, so the room could be disinfected. When no one came, he said that he expressed his concern to an HSE worker on site, who told him that there was no reason to worry.

“It’s a shame for my intelligence,” Misha said. He tested positive 10 days later.

The Irish Ministry of Justice told CNN that HSE Development Workers were in the hotel to monitor the health of residents and staff during the outbreak, and now provide more general support, including accessing key health services and integrating into the local community.

The department said they continue to work closely with HSE and Cahersiveen center managers to ensure the welfare of all occupants and staff, including offering all residents of their own bedrooms and providing enhanced cleaning services. The center also intends to provide self-catering facilities so that residents can cook in their rooms, instead of eating together in the shared dining room.

Townbe, the company that operates Skellig and three other Direct Supply centers, did not respond to CNN’s comment requests. The Justice Department said it cannot comment on the value of the contract with Townbe until after two years, due to commercial sensitivity.

But the conditions detailed by the Department of Justice differ dramatically from what was described to CNN by two asylum seekers and one previous manager at the center.

Fear of the second plague

When Misha and other asylum seekers arrived at Skellig Star in mid-March, they said they had found a vacation hotel that was not ready for guests, or prepared to face the corona virus. Central heating is broken, bedrooms – smaller than standard – have not been cleaned, isolation rooms have not been established, personal protective equipment is not available and staff have not been inspected by An Garda Síochána, Ireland’s national police service.

Bulelani Mfaco, an activist who has lived in Direct Provision since 2017, details some of these conditions in a report for the Asylum Seekers Movement in Ireland (MASI), provides recommendations for broad system reform. Top of his list: Ensures a suitable standard of living that protects physical and mental health.
Skellig Star residents in quarantine wave to local residents protesting outside on May 7.

“Cahersiveen shows us that the model does not work,” Mfaco said. “Giving vulnerable people to hoteliers, who have no training. No thought is taken at the risk of gathering all these people, cramming them into buses and taking them to remote villages far from health services.”

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Jack Fitzpatrick and other local residents fear that health services will be overwhelmed if another outbreak occurs.

The closest major hospital to Cahersiveen, which has a population of around 1,000, is 40 miles away. There are only two doctors in Cahersiveen, and one ambulance serving the entire remote Iveragh Peninsula, where the city is located.

“We are very fortunate that no one died at the hotel, and we have succeeded in stopping the spread of the virus in the community,” Fitzpatrick said.

“Our biggest fear is the second wave … We fear it will spread like wildfire in a hotel again, but next time it might also pass through the community. So we basically do our best to try to make them close down and move people to sort out accommodation . “

People in the city are demanding the resignation of Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan, who they say is misleading the public over the Covid-19 outbreak on Skellig Star.

“We must be given, at the very least, permission status to remain so that we can have our own accommodation, cook our own food and keep ourselves and our families safe from viruses.”

Azwar Fuard

Flanagan has apologized to the people in Cahersiveen, but said his department had no knowledge of infections in Dublin hotels before moving asylum seekers from there.
After the plague, Flanagan has asked the former Secretary General to do a review Department responses to Covid-19 at direct supply centers such as Cahersiveen.

Ciaran Quinlan, from Cahersiveen, told CNN he was looking for an order to close the center. He said he wanted to “help these people to get accommodation at their own front door, and to move them from accommodations that do not fit where they are.”

Azwar Fuard, an asylum seeker who has acted as a spokesman for the 70 remaining residents at the center, called on Flanagan to grant amnesty to Skellig Star residents to remain in Ireland.

Fuard, who is from Sri Lanka, was transferred from the same hotel as Misha in Dublin with his young family when they began to feel calm. Fuard and his wife have found work in the capital, are friends, and their three-year-old daughter starts school. To be deprived of another life, he said, is like a double trauma.

Now he says a family of three is mostly confined to a 12ft x 13ft room, with en suite bathrooms and no cooking or washing facilities.

“We must be granted, at the very least, permission status to remain so that we can have our own accommodation, cook our own food and keep ourselves and our families safe from viruses,” Fuard said.

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Portuguese historical films will premiere on 29 December.



Portuguese historical films will premiere on 29 December.

Method Media Bermuda will present the documentary FABRIC: Portuguese History in Bermuda on Thursday, December 29 at the Underwater Research Institute of Bermuda.

A spokesperson said: “Method Media is proud to bring Bermuda Fabric: Portugal History to Bermuda for its 5th and 6th showing at the Bermuda Underwater Observatory. In November and December 2019, Cloth: A Portuguese Story in Bermuda had four sold-out screenings. Now that Bermuda has reopened after the pandemic, it’s time to bring the film back for at least two screenings.

“There are tickets For $ 20 – sessions at 15:30 and 18:00. Both screenings will be followed by a short Q&A session.

Director and producer Milton Raboso says, “FABRIC is a definitive account of the Portuguese community in Bermuda and its 151 years of history, but it also places Bermuda, Acors and Portugal in the world history and the events that have fueled those 151 years.

“It took more than 10 years to implement FABRIC. The film was supported by the Minister of Culture, the Government of the Azores and private donors.

Bermuda Media Method [MMB] Created in 2011 by producer Milton Raposo. MMB has created content for a wide range of clients: Bermuda’s new hospital renovation, reinsurance, travel campaigns, international sports and more. MMB pays special attention to artistic, cultural and historical content.

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Maestro de Braga is the first Portuguese in the National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba.



Maestro de Braga is the first Portuguese in the National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba.

Maestro Filipe Cunha, Artistic Director of the Philharmonic Orchestra of Braga, has been invited to conduct the Cuban National Symphony Orchestra, as announced today.

According to a statement sent by O MINHO, “he will be the first Portuguese conductor to conduct this orchestra in its entire history.”

In addition to this orchestra, the maestro will also work with the Lyceo Mozarteum de la Habana Symphony Orchestra.

The concerts will take place on 4 and 12 March 2023 at the National Theater of Cuba in Havana.

In the words of the maestro, quoted in the statement, “these will be very beautiful concerts with difficult but very complex pieces” and therefore he feels “very motivated”.

From the very beginning, Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 will be performed by an Italian pianist (Luigi Borzillo), whom the maestro wants to bring to Portugal later this year. In the same concert, Mendelshon’s First Symphony will be performed.

Then, at the second concert, in the company of the Mexican clarinetist Angel Zedillo, he will perform the Louis Sfora Concerto No. 2. In this concert, the maestro also conducts Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony.

“This is an international recognition of my work. An invitation that I accept with humility and great responsibility. I was surprised to learn that I would be the first Portuguese member of the Cuban National Symphony Orchestra. This is a very great honor,” the maestro said in a statement.

“I take with me the name of the city of Braga and Portugal with all the responsibility that goes with it, and I hope to do a good job there, leaving a good image and putting on great concerts. These will be very special concerts because, in addition to performing pieces that I love, especially Rachmaninov and Tchaikovsky, I will be directing two wonderful soloists who are also my friends. It will be very beautiful,” concludes Filipe Cunha.

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