Thursday, 5 March 2020
Department of Justice and Equality
Direct Provision Data
407. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the number of persons living in the direct provision system by those living in direct provision centres and emergency direct provision accommodation; the number still living in direct provision even though they have received a grant of international protection; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3293/20]
As the Deputy will be aware, the State has a legal obligation to offer accommodation, food and a range of other services (including utilities and healthcare etc.) to any person who claims a right to international protection in Ireland where he or she does not have sufficient means to have an adequate standard of living while their claim for protection is being examined and demand led.
As of 1 March 2020, there were 5,645 persons being provided accommodation by my Department in the 39 accommodation centres located nationwide.
Due to an unexpected rise in applications (up 40% last year compared to 2018), these centres are at full operational capacity and, therefore, a further 1,633 persons are residing in 36 additional commercial accommodation premises, hotels and guest houses. Every effort is being made to re-accommodate applicants from these temporary locations to a dedicated accommodation centre as quickly as possible.
I can also inform the Deputy that residents who have been granted an international protection status (refugee status or subsidiary protection status) or a permission to remain have the same access to housing supports and services as Irish and EEA nationals. However, due to a difficulty in accessing other accommodation, there are 1,018* residents in accommodation centres with a protection status or humanitarian permission to remain in the State. These form part of the overall figure of 5,645 in such centres.
Considerable work is being undertaken to support these residents to move out of accommodation centres and into secure permanent accommodation. My Department has a specific team who work in collaboration with Depaul Ireland, the Jesuit Refugee Service, the Peter McVerry Trust, officials in the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, and the City and County Managers Association to collectively support residents with status or permission to remain to access housing options. A total of 837 persons with status moved into the community during 2019 and a further 191* people have, to date, moved to community-based accommodation this year.
I can also inform the Deputy that there are also 390 people accommodated in the Balseskin Reception Centre in Co. Dublin as of 1 March, 2020. During their stay in Balseskin, protection applicants are offered health screening and are processed for PPS numbers and medical cards. The purpose of Balseskin is to provide a short orientation period before residents are accommodated in centres around the country.
Balseskin plays a pivotal role in the direct provision process as it allows for the delivery of necessary supports and services to persons newly arrived in the state. The issuing of PPS numbers and medical cards allows those seeking international protection in Ireland to access direct provision allowances and medical supports once accommodated in a centre.
*These figures are provisional and may be subject to change.