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Justice Dept: Over 650 new beds 'will facilitate greater social distancing and isolation' in Direct Provision

The new accommodation will mainly be located in hotels in Dublin, Galway and Cork.

Image: Sam Boal via RollingNews.ie

THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT has said that more than 650 new beds have been made available for those in Direct Provision during the Covid-19 crisis.

Those in Direct Provision are asylum seekers, ie, they have applied for international protection. Those that are granted asylum are then classed as refugees.

Those in Direct Provision are often in cramped living conditions with shared facilities such as kitchens; it has been highlighted that social distancing would be difficult, and if an asylum seeker contracted Covid-19, it would be difficult for them to self-isolate.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said that the new beds “will provide valuable additional accommodation to support the measures required for vulnerable residents”.

Offsite accommodation for those who need to self-isolate will also be provided. 

The new accommodation will mainly be located in hotels in Dublin, Galway and Cork. 

These measures are expected to “help with social distancing measures by reducing overall numbers in some existing centres”, Flanagan said.

This is a critical part of our overall strategy to protect our residents. At all times, we are guided by the HSE and the National Public Health Emergency Team and we will continue to do everything possible to ensure the safety and well-being of all applicants.

These new measures are in addition to the Direct Provision centres that opened recently in Tullamore, Rosslare Harbour and Caherciveen. 

Since the start of the year, over 1,350 beds have been provided, enabling older Direct Provision centres to close and to move residents from emergency accommodation locations to dedicated centres, where cross agency services to residents can more effectively be provided.

Speaking about the challenges faced by residents, Minister of State Denis Stanton said:

“We know people are anxious. This is a very worrying time for everyone and people who are in the State seeking international protection are no different.

“This is why the Department wrote to all residents, centre managers and staff members over the weekend to reassure them that their welfare is of paramount importance to us.

“They were also informed that steps are being taken to protect the most vulnerable. I am pleased that the negotiations, opened in recent weeks, have reached a successful conclusion and that we are now able to provide more details. The implementation of these new measures will be commenced without delay.”

The Ministers thanked the staff working in centres who are providing an essential frontline service away from their own homes and families during this uncertain time. Minister Stanton said: 

“Like all essential frontline workers, our centre managers and their staff are performing a vital service to the State, which we are very grateful for. I want to commend their dedication and their commitment to protecting the welfare and safety of our residents.” 

The Department of Justice said that further measures to assist centre managers and residents will be announced in the coming days.

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