Thursday, 11 July 2019
Department of Justice and Equality
Direct Provision System
327. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality when the national standards for direct provision accommodation will be published in view of the fact that the consultation concluded in September 2018; his plans to ensure an independent inspection mechanism will be put in place in line with the McMahon report recommendation to ensure oversight and compliance with the new national standards; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30492/19]
I and my colleague Minister Charles Flanagan T.D. have recently approved new standards for direct provision accommodation centres. They were prepared by a Standards Advisory Group, established in 2017 and comprising officials from my Department, the Department of Children and Youth Affairs and the HSE National Office for Social Inclusion as well as representatives from AkiDwA, Children's Rights Alliance, the Core Group of Asylum Seekers and Refugees, the Jesuit Refugee Service, SPIRASI, and the UNHCR. The Standards address a range of themes including accommodation provided for those people seeking the protection of the State, food and catering, individual, community and family life, health and wellbeing, governance and meeting the special reception needs of applicants. They therefore build on the work done in the 2015 McMahon Report and meet the requirements of the Recast Reception Directive.
The standards were opened to public consultation last year which included dedicated information workshops at a number of accommodation centres.
It is planned to publish the standards shortly. The current procurement process in respect of direct provision accommodation was designed with a view to ensuring that all direct provision accommodation will adhere to these standards, when they come into force in January 2021.
I am committed to developing a robust independent inspection process to monitor and ensure compliance with the standards following their implementation.
328. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the status of the improvement works due to be carried out at the Towers direct provision centre in advance of the new contract being signed (details supplied). [30495/19]
My Department, through the Reception and Integration Agency (RIA), has commenced a national procurement programme for accommodation centres for persons entering the state and seeking international protection. This will comprise a series of regional competitions through the Government's procurement website www.etenders.gov.ie .
The Department ran a tender competition for premises within 40km of Newbridge, Co. Kildare for accommodation and ancillary services. Successful bidders were required to undertake mobilisation works to provide for residents cooking facilities, a foodhall (where residents can obtain ingredients and food items as well as toiletries and household items through a points system) and designated living space for families outside of the bedrooms. There is a 12 week provision for the completion of the required mobilisation works. No contract will be in effect until the mobilisation works are completed and subsequently inspected and verified as complete by RIA.
The provider who is currently providing accommodation and ancillary services at the Towers Centre in Clondalkin, Dublin 22 was successful in being placed on the framework. The 12 week mobilisation period commenced on the 11th April 2019 which required all works to be complete by the 4th July 2019. My Department has been informed recently that due to logistical reasons, the contractor was unable to commence mobilisation works. Following discussions, the contractor has agreed to commence these works and the current contract has been extended to allow this to happen.