Tuesday, 16 June 2020
Department of Justice and Equality
Direct Provision System
373. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality when the Reception and Integration Agency last inspected a direct provision centre (details supplied); if residents were engaged with on that occasion; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11261/20]
The location mentioned is an emergency accommodation centre rather than one of our dedicated accommodation centres (also known as Direct Provision centres). It was initially inspected by procurement staff of my Department before being contracted as temporary accommodation for international protection applicants in May 2019.
Two staff from the International Protection Accommodation Service (IPAS) of my Department visited the centre in October 2019 to conduct a bed audit. During this visit, they interacted with centre staff and residents and listened to any comments or issues brought to their attention. They were given a tour of the facilities including the kitchen, laundry, Wi-Fi and recreation facilities. They ensured that all were working satisfactorily and providing an acceptable quality of service to residents. In the location mentioned by the Deputy, the residents have access to self-catering facilities, which were also visited. In addition, all bedrooms in the premises were visited.
As a result of the current health and safety restrictions with respect to the COVID-19 crisis, it has not been possible for a programme of visits or inspections to be carried out at this time.Some unannounced visits have taken place in recent weeks and work is ongoing in the Department to see how this can be expanded to additional locations in the coming period as we all adapt to new ways of working during the pandemic.
During this time, we are in daily contact with our centres (including emergency locations) through a dedicated communications team from the International Protection Accommodation Service (IPAS). This team undertakes daily calls with all centre managers across our network of permanent and temporary centres. Feedback from these conversations is reflected in the newsletters circulated to all centre managers to promote shared learning and best practice, which are available to view on our website . The daily calls also ensure that any issues or concerns can be raised without delay for appropriate resolution for the benefit of residents and staff. Regular newsletters are also circulated to residents and Friends of the Centre Groups. These too can be found on our website.
Should residents have any issues or concerns that they wish to raise directly with my Department, they can do so via an email address which is made known to all residents. If the complaint is not resolved to their satisfaction, residents can also raise concerns with the Office of the Ombudsman and the Ombudsman for Children, as appropriate. Contacts details for these Offices are also provided. Officials of my Department have recently begun holding virtual clinics with residents and a Freephone telephone support service run by the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) has also been established as an additional confidential support for residents.