Wednesday, 20 January 2010
Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform
Asylum Support Services
Question 226: To ask the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if his Department has acquired or is in the process of acquiring a property (details supplied) in County Limerick for use as a residence for asylum seekers; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that such use will be in breach of conditions of the planning approval from An Bord Pleanála; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2583/10]
The Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) of my Department is responsible for the accommodation of asylum seekers. At the end of 2009, a total of 54 centres throughout the country accommodating 6,494 persons seeking international protection were under contract to the RIA. As part of the management of this process, the RIA advertises annually in the national press for expressions of interest from persons interested in providing accommodation and ancillary services for asylum seekers.
In fulfilling its responsibilities in respect of the accommodation of asylum seekers, the RIA does not acquire or 'lease' premises. Rather it engages contractors to provide a comprehensive range of services, which include accommodation, catering, housekeeping, etc., for a fixed period of time. When engaging in the contracting process the RIA is primarily concerned with achieving best value for taxpayers' money and also with achieving as wide a spread as is possible of asylum seekers evenly throughout the State. For these and for other, commercial, reasons, it has not been the practice up to now to divulge whether a particular location is the subject of contractual negotiations, and it is not proposed to depart from this long standing practice on this occasion.