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Cooking facilities and separate family bedrooms among Direct Provision recommendations

The new guidelines are aimed at improving conditions for asylum seekers.

Protestors against the Direct Provision last year.
Protestors against the Direct Provision last year.
Image: Eamonn Farrell/RollingNews.ie

NATIONAL ACCOMMODATION STANDARDS for asylum seekers, including those living in Direct Provision, moved one step closer today as the Department of Justice and Equality announced a consultation process on the matter.

A Standards Advisory Group has drafted national standards for those living in State-provided accommodation.

The department now plans to run consultation meetings with residents of Direct Provision centres, service providers, organisations and people working with residents.

No bunk beds for over 15s

Once finalised, these standards will govern services provided by contractors to those in the protection process, the department has said.

There are currently over 5,000 people living in Direct Provision. Adults in the system receive a weekly allowance of €21. Children receive the same rate.

A working group on standards in Direct Provision, chaired by Judge Bryan McMahon, recommended the setting up of the Standards Advisory Group.

The draft standards are made up of three strands; ‘governance’, ‘accommodation’ and ‘people’, the department has said.

Recommendations outlined within the draft standards include:

  • Garda vetting of staff, management and volunteers working at Direct Provision centres.
  • Bunk beds should not be provided for residents over the age of 15.
  • Separate family bedrooms, including a separate room for parents.
  • Private living spaces and bathrooms for residents.
  • Access to cooking and food storage facilities.
  • A minimum space of 4.65m² for each resident per bedroom.
  • Consideration of the sexual orientation and gender identity of residents when assigning bedrooms.

Direct provision centres house asylum applicants and their families while applications are being processed but the conditions in which the people are held and the length of time they are required to stay there has been frequently criticised.

“More humane”

Jennifer DeWan of Nasc, the Immigrant Support Centre, says she welcomes today’s announcement. “This is something we have long called for,” said DeWan. “We’ve engaged in this standards development process because we believe this is the pathway towards a more humane reception system for asylum seekers.”

The department has asked those who specialise in the development of quality standards to review the draft standards and submit comments through the online feedback form.

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