Some of the tents that have been in use at the direct provision accommodation centre in Lissywollen, Athlone, since September.

Twenty residents moved from Athlone tented camp

Some 20 residents of the tented camp in Athlone's direct provision accommodation centre in Lissywollen were moved to alternative accommodation on Friday last.

Since September, 174 male asylum seekers, or international protection applicants, had been living in tents that were set up alongside the existing mobile homes at the town's long-established direct provision site.

Gerry Callaghan, the chairperson of New Horizon Refugee and Asylum Seeker Support, said he was pleased to report that 20 people were transferred from the tents into "more suitable accommodation" on Friday last.

He added that a commitment had been given to transfer the remaining residents out of the tents in the near future.

"New Horizon very much welcomes this development. Conditions (in the tents) had become very difficult with the colder weather," he said.

The residents of the tents are understood to have come to Ireland from some 30 different countries.

The tented accommodation in Lissywollen includes three sleeping tents, which are divided into four-person rooms. Toilets and showers are located in separate external rooms, around 30 metres from where the residents sleep.

When the tents at the Athlone site were erected at the end of the summer, the facility was described as "temporary" by the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration & Youth - however no specific timeframe was given for how long the tents would be in use.

The Westmeath Independent contacted the Department's press office on Monday with queries relating to the tented residents in Athlone. Up to the time of writing today (Tuesday) we have not received a response.