Thursday, 8 October 2020
Department of Justice and Equality
Direct Provision System
237. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the number of persons in direct provision; the number of households in direct provision; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29505/20]
The State is obliged under domestic and international law to examine the application of anyone who arrives at the State to claim international protection. While we are examining their application, all applicants are offered accommodation and other supports such as healthcare, education for children and a weekly payment for personal expenditure. The provision of accommodation is demand-led, based on the number of applicants arriving to claim international protection and requiring accommodation.
My Department maintains statistics of the number of residents housed in each centre on a weekly basis. However, as the Deputy will appreciate, the configuration of each centre and the room make-up is constantly changing as new applicants are placed in accommodation; people with a status or permission to remain move to accommodation in the community; and transfers take place between accommodation centres.
The most up to date currently available data closest to that sought by the Deputy in respect of occupancy of our accommodation centres, including emergency accommodation, is as of 30 August 2020. At that time, there were 7,056 residents being accommodated, of whom 3,804 belonged to a family group. These 3,804 residents belonged to 1,185 individual family groups.
While the HSE advice is that non-family members sharing a room in congregated settings are considered to be a household during the COVID-19 crisis, my Department does not maintain data on the number of rooms. As the Deputy will be aware, the Department has ensured at this time that no more than three unrelated people are sharing a room in any of our centres and that will remain our policy when the COVID-19 crisis is over.
As of 4 October, 2020, there were 6,736 people accommodated by my Department. 5,532 people were accommodated in our 44 accommodation centres and a further 1,204 people were accommodated in 29 temporary accommodation locations in hotels and guest-houses. In addition, there were another 262 people residing in the Balseskin Reception Centre, bringing the total number of people accommodated to 6,998.
We have opened additional own-door accommodation in Galway City Centre in recent weeks and ceased using four other temporary accommodation premises. This in line with our aim to move people from temporary accommodation to fully serviced centres as soon as possible, as and when vacancies arise, or new accommodation comes on stream. Our priority continues to be to move families with children to independent living facilities and own-door accommodation.