Residents of a direct provision centre in Co Kerry and members of the local community have united to call for the closure of the centre.

There has been a cluster of Covid-19 cases in the building and they fear it is not safe for those still living there.

Around 100 people were moved from direct Provision centres in Dublin to the Skellig Star Hotel in Cahersiveen in March.

The move was part of the Department of Justice's response to the Covid-19 pandemic and to keep residents safe by reducing numbers in centres in Dublin.

But residents say around 20 people living in the centre in Cahersiveen have now tested positive for Covid-19.

They have been removed to other facilities but those still living in the centre say they are not safe there. They want the Department of Justice to move them somewhere they can maintain physical distancing from others.

They protested outside the centre and called for it to be closed down. A circular issued by the International Protection Accommodation Services, the state agency which houses asylum seekers, says they are not allowed to leave the grounds following advice from public health officials.

There are around 56 bedrooms in the hotel and 80 or 90 residents remain living there.

Some are sharing rooms and one resident who spoke to RTÉ News said it is not possible to maintain physical distancing in the centre.

Azwar Fuard, a member of the Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland, said it is impossible when using the stairs, lifts or other common areas to stay far enough away from other people.

A member of Cahersiveen's business community who spoke to RTÉ News agreed with this assessment, describing the building as not fit for purpose as a direct provision centre saying it is a boutique hotel where the rooms and common areas are too small to allow for physical distancing.

In response to queries from RTÉ News, the Department of Justice said it is limited as to what it can say because this a public health issue and every person has the right to privacy including in regard to their health information.

And it referred to a previous statement in which it said: "We worked with the HSE's National Social Inclusion Team in establishing the Centre in Cahersiveen and we continue to work with the HSE on a daily basis.

"In Cahersiveen, HSE Public Health is actively involved with the centre and our department is following all public health advice and instruction received from them."