Written answers

Tuesday, 16 June 2020

Department of Justice and Equality

Direct Provision System

Photo of Joan CollinsJoan Collins (Dublin South Central, Independents 4 Change)
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322. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality if a direct provision centre (details supplied) will be investigated; and if residents will be moved to a safe environment with heating and nutritional food immediately. [10630/20]

Photo of David StantonDavid Stanton (Cork East, Fine Gael)
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Any complaints or concerns regarding the health and safety of international protection applicants are taken extremely seriously by me, Minister Flanagan and our officials.

 Following a number of issues raised in relation to this emergency accommodation premises, officials from the International Protection Accommodation Service (IPAS) of my Department recently (4 June) held a clinic via video call with residents of the centre. This was attended by 12 of the 19 residents currently residing at the centre. The clinic was held off-site in the Miltown Malbay Community Centre and was facilitated by a volunteer from the Limerick and Clare Educational Training Board (LCETB). Other than the residents and the facilitator, only the manager of the Community Centre and the caretaker were present onsite at the time.

 Each resident attended their own clinic appointment in a separate room away from the facilitator and the manager of the Community Centre to ensure privacy and confidentiality.

 The majority of residents who attended the clinic stated they were happy with the food and with the accommodation in general. A small number of the residents who participated in the clinics stated that the food was not to their liking.  

 Following the clinics, an unannounced visit was made to the accommodation the next day (5 June 2020) by a senior official from my Department. During this visit, a number of issues raised in recent correspondence to my Office were investigated.  I can confirm that during this visit all rooms were viewed and that no health and safety issues were identified. My officials will be following up with management and residents on any of the issues raised during the recent clinics. 

 Concerns had previously been raised with my Office around rodent activity on the premises and water leaking. I am advised that there was no evidence of any rodent activity or water leaking on the day my official visited. When questioned by my official on these matters, the owner confirmed that a resident had reported mice in his room in February. The owner engaged a pest control company who could not find any evidence of rodents. They subsequently monitored the room for three weeks and could not find any evidence of rodents. Regarding the water, I am advised that the owner confirmed that an incident occurred some months ago where water was leaking from a bath/shower on the second floor into a bedroom on the first floor. It was reported to him by the residents in the room and he sought to engage a plumber. One of the residents said he was a plumber and asked if he could fix it. It was addressed within a few hours and no reoccurrence of the leaking has been reported since.

 Furthermore, my official identified no concerns about the quality or variety of food available during their visit. Food is prepared onsite by a professional chef and all meat is Halal certified. Residents also have use of the kitchen for special occasions and regularly cook meals of their choice from food supplied by management. Arrangements were also made during Ramadan recently for residents to use the kitchen at night.

 I can also advise that IPAS officials previously visited the premises unannounced on 13 February last, on foot of concerns raised by a local support group. During the course of this visit, they inspected all bedrooms and recreation rooms and the kitchen and dining facilities and they had lunch with the residents. I am advised that my officials did not find any major issues to report and the residents they spoke to did not raise any issues about the standard of the centre. The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) also carried out a visit to the premises in February

as part of a programme of visits to a variety of centres over a two week period. No specific issues were brought to my Department's attention regarding the premises arising from their visit.

 It is my Department’s intention is to accommodate all international protection applicants currently living in emergency accommodation in dedicated accommodation centres as soon as places become available. In the meantime, I hope that this information will provide you with some reassurance on the current situation at this centre.

Photo of Paul MurphyPaul Murphy (Dublin South West, RISE)
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324. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality if his attention has been drawn to unsanitary or unsafe conditions in the direct provision centre at a location (details supplied); if his officials or the international protection accommodation service, IPAS, will be instructed to arrange for an inspection of the building or to publish the findings of a recent inspection of the building, its accommodation and facilities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10707/20]

Photo of Róisín ShortallRóisín Shortall (Dublin North West, Social Democrats)
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375. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality if an immediate inspection will be undertaken of a direct provision centre (details supplied); the way in which he plans to address issues with the management; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11266/20]

Violet Wynne (Clare, Sinn Fein)
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387. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality if an inspection was carried out in February 2020 at a direct provision centre (details supplied); if so, the findings; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11367/20]

Photo of Catherine ConnollyCatherine Connolly (Galway West, Independent)
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390. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the outcome of the inspection of an emergency direct provision centre (details supplied) on 5 June 2020; the findings of the inspection; the steps being taken on foot of the inspection; the person or persons who carried out the inspection; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11409/20]

Photo of David StantonDavid Stanton (Cork East, Fine Gael)
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I propose to take Questions Nos. 324, 375, 387 and 390 together.

Any complaints or concerns regarding the health and safety of international protection applicants are taken extremely seriously by me, Minister Flanagan and our officials.

 Following a number of issues raised in relation to this emergency accommodation premises, officials from the International Protection Accommodation Service (IPAS) of my Department recently (4 June) held a clinic via video call with residents of the centre. This was attended by 12 of the 19 residents currently residing at the centre. The clinic was held off-site in the Miltown Malbay Community Centre and was facilitated by a volunteer from the Limerick and Clare Educational Training Board (LCETB). Other than the residents and the facilitator, only the manager of the Community Centre and the caretaker were present onsite at the time.

 Each resident attended their own clinic appointment in a separate room away from the facilitator and the manager of the Community Centre to ensure privacy and confidentiality.

 The majority of residents who attended the clinic stated they were happy with the food and with the accommodation in general. A small number of the residents who participated in the clinics stated that the food was not to their liking.  

 Following the clinics, an unannounced visit was made to the accommodation the next day (5 June 2020) by a senior official from my Department. During this visit, a number of issues raised in recent correspondence to my Office were investigated.  I can confirm that during this visit all rooms were viewed and that no health and safety issues were identified. My officials will be following up with management and residents on any of the issues raised during the recent clinics. 

 Concerns had previously been raised with my Office around rodent activity on the premises and water leaking. I am advised that there was no evidence of any rodent activity or water leaking on the day my official visited. When questioned by my official on these matters, the owner confirmed that a resident had reported mice in his room in February. The owner engaged a pest control company who could not find any evidence of rodents. They subsequently monitored the room for three weeks and could not find any evidence of rodents. Regarding the water, I am advised that the owner confirmed that an incident occurred some months ago where water was leaking from a bath/shower on the second floor into a bedroom on the first floor. It was reported to him by the residents in the room and he sought to engage a plumber. One of the residents said he was a plumber and asked if he could fix it. It was addressed within a few hours and no reoccurrence of the leaking has been reported since.

 Furthermore, my official identified no concerns about the quality or variety of food available during their visit. Food is prepared onsite by a professional chef and all meat is Halal certified. Residents also have use of the kitchen for special occasions and regularly cook meals of their choice from food supplied by management. Arrangements were also made during Ramadan recently for residents to use the kitchen at night.

 I can also advise that IPAS officials previously visited the premises unannounced on 13 February last, on foot of concerns raised by a local support group. During the course of this visit, they inspected all bedrooms and recreation rooms and the kitchen and dining facilities and they had lunch with the residents. I am advised that my officials did not find any major issues to report and the residents they spoke to did not raise any issues about the standard of the centre. The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) also carried out a visit to the premises in February

as part of a programme of visits to a variety of centres over a two week period. No specific issues were brought to my Department's attention regarding the premises arising from their visit.

 It is my Department’s intention is to accommodate all international protection applicants currently living in emergency accommodation in dedicated accommodation centres as soon as places become available. In the meantime, I hope that this information will provide you with some reassurance on the current situation at this centre.

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