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Direct provision: Complaints about lack of cooking facilities, accommodation and refusals of transfer requests

Complaints from residents were about food, lack of cooking facilities and the availability of transport.

DP. Lissywollen Accommodation Centre, Athlone Source: Vukasin Nedeljovic

THE OFFICE OF the Ombudsman received 148 formal complaints from residents living in direct provision last year. 

There are currently 38 direct provision centres operating around Ireland. Generally re-purposed or purpose-built facilities, these centres are used to accommodate asylum seekers in Ireland. Some centres are state-run but most are tendered out to various private contractors. 

Today’s report lays out official complaints made to the Ombudsman’s office since January 2018. 

In one instance reported last year, a man living in a direct provision centre in visited the Ombudsman’s Office to complain about his treatment by the Reception and Integration Agency (RIA), which has responsibility for the direct provision system. 

The man said that his partner had moved to the Mosney Accommodation Centre in Co Meath and that he’d requested a transfer to be with her.

Although he’d informed his current accommodation centre that he was visiting his partner, the centre decided that his bed space was abandoned. The man, therefore, had nowhere to sleep that night while waiting for the decision on his transfer request.

The Ombudsman contacted RIA. It then issued a letter approving the man’s transfer request and the man was admitted to stay in Mosney that evening.

Among last year’s complaints relating to official bodies as well as direct provision centres there were 20 complaints about facilities in centres including complaints from residents about food, lack of cooking facilities and availability of transport. 

There was also 14 complaints about accommodation and 13 complaints about refusals to re-admit residents to centres.

The Irish Refugee Protection Programme (IRPP) was the subject of 18 complaints in 2018 while there were 14 complaints relating to the Department of Employment Affairs & Social Protection.

The IRPP was set up in 2015 in response to the refugee crises in Europe. 

‘Unsuitable system’

Complaints made in 2018 bring the total number to 263 since the Ombudsman’s office began accepting complaints from people in direct provision in April 2017. 

In his report, Ombudsman Peter Tyndall reiterated his opinion that “direct provision is not a suitable long-term system for those waiting for a decision on their asylum application”. 

The asylum system in Ireland has come under increased pressure in recent months. As a result, hundreds of asylum seekers have been placed in emergency accommodation since September. 

The Office of the Ombudsman has the responsibility of examining complaints from people who feel they have been unfairly treated by certain public bodies.

While the right to work – introduced last year – has had a positive impact for some living in the system, today’s report notes, residents who have taken up employment will soon be asked to pay a proportion of the cost of providing accommodation in line with their income.

A spokesperson has said “any complaint about the calculation of the charges can be examined by the Ombudsman”.

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