Thursday, 11 July 2019
Department of Justice and Equality
Direct Provision Data
360. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the number of persons in direct provision accommodation centres between the end of December 2018 and the end of June 2019, by centre and month in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31310/19]
The statistical data requested by the Deputy is contained in tabular excel spreadsheets at the following link:
The Deputy should note that a further 988 persons are currently accommodated in emergency accommodation in hotels and guesthouses.
361. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the reported capacity of each direct provision centre at the end of June 2019, in tabular form; the reported capacity of each direct provision centre in January 2018; if works to increase capacity have taken place; and if so, the nature of the works. [31311/19]
In January and again in September of 2018, the Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) of my Department published a call in the national press for expressions of interest from potential contractors to meet the increasing demand for accommodation for persons in the protection process. The criteria against which the Department assessed the offers of accommodation were availability, standard of property, ability to provide communal social spaces for residents, ability to cater at mealtimes and proximity to various other services.
Seven new accommodation centres were opened following those calls for expressions of interest.
Simultaneously, staff in my Department worked with existing accommodation providers to identify additional capacity in existing centres. This involved the identification of additional or unused areas within a centre by centre staff, followed by upgrade or refurbishment works by the centre operator to ensure that all any new accommodation provided met statutory requirements and then final approval of the increase in capacity by the Department. This process was ongoing during 2018.
In August 2018, my Department, in conjunction with the Office of Government Procurement (OGP), commenced a series of regional Requests for Tender (RFT) competitions for accommodation and other services for persons seeking international protection. To date, seven such competitions have been held. Two are complete and the remainder are underway. Additional capacity was also identified as part of those competitions. As the results of some of the competitions have yet to be published, the identity of those premises remains confidential.
Tabular information on the capacity of centres is as follows:
|Centre Name||County||Capacity 7th January 2018||Capacity 30th June 2019|
|King Thomond Hotel*||Clare||115|
|Great Western House||Galway||162||162|
|Atlas House Killarney||Kerry||90||90|
|Atlas House Tralee||Kerry||100||100|
|The Hazel Hotel*||Kildare||143|
|The Montague Hotel||Laois||202||202|
|The Old Convent||Mayo||245||245|
|The Grand Hotel*||Wicklow||111|
** denotes accommodation centre closed between January 2018 and June 2019
While an international protection claim is being examined, the Reception and Integration Agency(RIA) offers accommodation and related services to anyone without means. The Department of Education and Skills provides school places for children resident in the centres.
All children in Ireland, including children seeking international protection, can access pre-school, first and second level education in a manner similar to Irish nationals, until they have reached the age of 18 years.
Children residing in accommodation centres under contract to the Department of Justice and Equality to accommodate international protection applicants are provided with information and assistance regarding enrolment in local schools. The assistance of TUSLA Educational Welfare Service is sought where there are local difficulties in securing a school place.
The Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) does not maintain statistics on the school attendance of children residing in accommodation centres.
363. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the number of persons who have been refused accommodation in direct provision centres to date in 2019; the alternatives offered to such persons; and the length of time between refusal and their being offered accommodation. [31313/19]
While an international protection claim is being examined, the Reception and Integration Agency(RIA) offers accommodation and related services to anyone without means. There is no obligation on anyone to accept the offer of accommodation.
Accommodation is provided under the European Communities (Reception Conditions) Regulations 2018 which came in to effect in June 2018. No applicant for international protection has been refused accommodation in 2019. Under the regulations listed above RIA may provide material reception conditions in accommodation other than that which is usually provided, where the accommodation capacity normally available is temporarily exhausted.
The pressure our accommodation system currently faces is clear. The Reception and Integration Agency is accommodating 6082 people in its 39 accommodation centres and a further 988 people are in emergency accommodation in hotels and guesthouses. The use of emergency accommodation is not ideal. However, we must ensure that each person arriving today to claim protection, with no advance warning, tonight has shelter, food and any urgent medical care required.
In this context, RIA continues to seek additional capacity, including through the ongoing regional procurement process to minimise its use of emergency beds.
364. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the number of persons living in direct provision who have taken up paid employment since the introduction of the limited right of asylum seekers to work; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31314/19]
When an international protection applicant is issued with a labour market access permission under the European Communities (Reception Conditions) Regulations 2018 and takes up employment, the employer (or applicant in the case of self-employment), is obliged to inform the Minister for Justice and Equality within 21 days. A standard form for this purpose is available on the website of the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department.
I am advised by the INIS that, based on the returned declaration forms received to date, a total of 1,267 applicants have indicated they have commenced employment or self-employment, of which 896 are living in Direct Provision. As the employer or applicant has 21 days from the time they take up employment or self-employment to return the declaration form, there is likely to be a time lag between the actual date of commencement of employment and INIS being notified of same.