Tuesday, 30 June 2020
Department of Justice and Equality
Direct Provision System
277. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the procedures in place and the efforts made to ensure that direct provision accommodation centres are in compliance with planning laws and with fire and safety regulations; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12713/20]
278. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality if her Department carries out assessments and investigations of direct provision accommodation centres to ensure they are in compliance with planning laws and with fire and safety regulations at the time the tender is awarded and after that time; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12714/20]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 277 and 278 together.
All requests for tender, issued on behalf of my Department for accommodation for international protection applicants, require bidders to comply with the relevant regulations and the associated Technical Guidance Documents where applicable, including but not limited to the following;
- Building Control Acts 1990 and 2007
- Building Regulations 1997 to 2017
- Building Control Regulations 1997 to 2009
- Housing Acts 1966 to 2004
- Planning and Development Acts 2000 to 2005
- Fire Services Acts 1981 and 2003
- Any statutory modification or re-enactment of same
Each premises must hold, or have the capability to obtain, the following certification;
- Fire Safety Certificate;
- Certificates of Design, Installation, Commissioning and Handover for the Fire Alarm System, as per IS 3218:2013 or equivalent. The Fire Alarm shall meet the requirements of an L1, LD1 or LD2 type system as appropriate;
- Certificates of Design, Installation, Commissioning and Handover for the Emergency Lighting System, as per IS 3217:2013, or equivalent;
- Safe Electric test sheet/certification of electrical installation.
- Certificate and Opinion of Compliance with the Fire Services Acts 1981 and 2003.
It is also part of the contracts, under our expressions of interest process, that all contractors comply with planning and development legislation, building control regulations as well as fire services legislation. All centres are monitored on an ongoing basis to ensure ongoing compliance.
All accommodation centres under contract to my Department are subject to three unannounced inspections per annum: twice by officials of the Immigration Service of my Department and once by an independent company (QTS Limited). Inspections cover a wide range of issues including fire safety and other health and safety issues.
Any issue identified is communicated in writing to the contractor and the contractor is required to address any issue identified immediately. Officials from the Immigration Service follow up to ensure that relevant issues have been addressed.
As a result of health and safety restrictions with respect to the COVID-19 crisis, it has not been possible to carry out inspections at this time. As soon as the HSE advises that it is appropriate to commence inspections again, the relevant officials in the Immigration Service will resume the inspection process.
While we are unable to carry out inspections at this time, we are in regular contact with our centres through a dedicated communications team from the International Protection Accommodation Service (IPAS). This team undertakes calls with all centre managers across our network of permanent and temporary centres. The calls also ensure that any issues or concerns can be raised without delay for appropriate resolution for the benefit of residents and staff.