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Dublin: 13 °C Wednesday 16 October, 2019
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Government to spend €65 million on new Direct Provision centres in four counties

The Department of Justice & Equality has struggled to open new centres since 2018.

Hatch Hall Direct Provision centre closed in July.
Hatch Hall Direct Provision centre closed in July.
Image: Google Maps

THE DEPARTMENT OF Justice & Equality has issued a €65 million tender for new Direct Provision centres for asylum seekers in Ireland. 

Premises are being sought in Co Kildare, Co Wicklow, Co Meath and Co Louth to provide accommodation and services to international protection applicants under the Independent Living Model. 

It is unclear the number of Direct Provision centres that will open following this tender issuing. 

To illustrate the scale of accommodation requirement, over 1,000 people currently live in emergency accommodation. By comparison, 800 people live in Mosney, Co Meath, by far Ireland’s largest Direct Provision centre. 

A spokesperson for the Justice Department told TheJournal.ie that “it is not possible to say at this stage how many centres will open or how many people will be accommodated.”

In 2015, retired High Court Judge Dr Bryan McMahon’s report into Ireland’s asylum system recommended the establishment of an ‘Independent Living Model’ for Direct Provision whereby residents have access to their own cooking facilities. 

Of the 6,000 people currently living in Ireland’s 39 Direct Provision centres, one third currently access this model. 

Since 2018, however, the Department has struggled to open new centres due to arson attacks at hotels in Moville, Co Donegal and Rooskey on the Roscommon-Leitrim border.

In addition, it said a 36% increase in asylum applications “has stretched the system to its full capacity”. 

In June 2018, 234 people applied for international protections here compared with 383 people this year. 

‘Difficulties’

Since September 2018, asylum seekers have been placed in hotels and B&Bs due to this pressure.

The average daily rate across Direct Provision centres is €35, according to the Department of Justice & Equality. The average cost for emergency accommodation is €100 per person per night, TheJournal.ie recently reported

So far, the Department has spent over €12 million on emergency accommodation. Until new Direct Provision centres come on-stream, the Department’s Reception & Integration Agency (RIA) will continue to contract hotels and B&Bs, it has said. 

There are currently over 1,100 international protection applicants living in emergency accommodation with 30 hotels and B&Bs in 12 counties contracted by RIA to provide bed and board.

A number of issues for people living in emergency accommodation highlighted by TheJournal.ie include difficulties accessing GP services, delays in PPS numbers being allocated in order to receive weekly payment, lack of educational access for children and unsuitable accommodation.

Criticism has been levelled at a lack of vulnerability assessments for people entering the country before being moved directly to emergency accommodation. These assessments aim to identify specific reception needs for people. 

Most recently, TheJournal.ie reported ongoing difficulties for people living at The Clayton Hotel in Dublin. 

Meanwhile, the Department is struggling to maintain existing Direct Provision stock. 

In July, Hatch Hall Direct Provision centre in Dublin – which accommodated 200 people – closed ahead of its redevelopment into a five-star hotel. 

Established in 1999 in response to a sharp increase in the number of people seeking asylum in Ireland, Direct Provision has been repeatedly critcised by migrant rights groups due to the length of time people remain in centres while their asylum applications or appeals are processed, the conditions of centres as well as the psychological effects on those living in these centres. 

It’s estimated that over 60,000 asylum seekers have been placed in Direct Provision since its introduction. 

Under the recently issued tender for the Mid-East region, the Department plans to spend €55 million for a 24-month contract with multiple suppliers for accommodation, housekeeping, food and cooking facilities for families, couples and single people and an additional €9.8 million for accommodation for single people.

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