Tuesday, 19 July 2011
Department of Justice, Equality and Defence
Asylum Support Services
Question 396: To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will outline details on a contract (details supplied) in County Laois; if there are plans to renew or not to renew this contract; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20976/11]
The Reception & Integration Agency (RIA) of my Department is responsible for the accommodation of asylum seekers while their protection applications are being processed.
By way of background to this question, as of today RIA has 45 asylum seeker accommodation centres across 18 counties accommodating just over 5,700 residents. The system is a constantly evolving one, taking account of the ebb and flow of residents and of the financial resources available to RIA. The numbers needing to be accommodated by RIA have declined by 7% in the past year and this trend is continuing downwards. The 2011 estimates provision for RIA is €67.5 million, down €10 million (13%) from last year. Added to this is the requirement by RIA – as recommended in last year's Value for Money (VFM) Report - to maintain an overall operational 'spare capacity' of less than 10%. Accordingly, because of a decline in demand, the number of asylum accommodation centres is necessarily falling. Five centres closed in 2008, six in 2009, eight in 2010 and more have closed and will close in 2011.
The centre referred to in this question is operated by a commercial firm with whom RIA has a contract to provide accommodation services for 200 persons. Its current contract ends on 10 October, 2011. The number of asylum seekers requiring accommodation now and the likely number in the future is under constant review and it is not possible at this stage to predict what particular accommodation facilities will be required in the short or medium term future.