413. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of persons who have been refused accommodation in direct provision centres to date; the alternatives offered to such persons; the length of time between refusal and their being offered accommodation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45158/18]
Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality (Deputy David Stanton): As the Deputy is aware, persons seeking international protection are offered accommodation and related services by my Department. Not every person accepts this offer and there is no obligation on any person to do so. Some persons may avail of accommodation with friends and / or family or may have means of their own.
A person who does not need accommodation and related services immediately on arrival in Ireland may seek to obtain these services at a later date.
In early September 2018, there was a sudden increase in demand for accommodation and priority had to be given to families and other vulnerable people arriving into Ireland. The numbers who did not initially receive an offer of accommodation are relatively small (approximately 20 persons) and RIA has now offered accommodation to any of those in this situation who contacted it subsequently.
Since that time additional accommodation has been made available to RIA and all newly arrived protection applications who have requested accommodation have been so provided.
As of Sunday evening, 28 October 2018, 5,848 persons were accommodated throughout the State. This is from a contracted capacity of 6,051 with just over 160 spaces unavailable due to family configurations etc., and 60 spaces available for new applicants.
To address ongoing demands, the Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) of my Department continues to work actively to identify and contract suitable accommodation. This will inevitably involve opening of new accommodation centres across the country.
Quite separate to this, RIA is also engaged in an open competitive process to establish a framework of accommodation centres from which we can draw down accommodation as and when needed over the coming years.