Thursday, 2 December 2021
Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth
Direct Provision System
124. To ask the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth when HIQA will begin undertaking independent inspections of direct provision centres; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [59526/21]
I am pleased to confirm the Government’s decision that the accommodation centres operated by the International Protection Accommodation Service (IPAS) are to be independently monitored by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) for compliance with the National Standards for accommodation offered to people in the protection process. These standards were adopted by Government in 2019, and have been in effect since the beginning of 2021.
The National Standards meet the requirements of the relevant legislation – the EU (recast) Reception Conditions Directive which Ireland opted into in June 2018.
The first stages of the project are now underway. My Department is currently engaging with HIQA to tie down the resources and staffing needing by HIQA to undertake its monitoring role. In parallel with this process, detailed work is being undertaken by my Department to provide the necessary legal basis for HIQA's monitoring role.
It is important to note that there are inspections carried out under the current system. At present, all IPAS permanent accommodation centres are subject to three unannounced inspections per year. In 2021, two inspections are being carried out in each centre by an independent inspections company (QTS Ltd) and one by officials of the International Protection Accommodation Service (IPAS).
Inspections cover a wide range of issues including fire safety, appropriate signage and information for residents, the condition of communal areas and sleeping quarters, the quality of food provided and adherence to hygiene and other health and safety requirements.
IPAS has also taken steps to support adherence to the National Standards through its contract arrangements with accommodation centres. All properties selected under IPAS’ most recent tender process are required to be able to implement the National Standards. This requirement applies to the provision of new centres and to any renewal of a contract with a current provider.