109. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to fund the cost of feminine hygiene products for persons living in direct provision centres; the funding that will be provided for this initiative; if it is a long-term initiative; when this initiative will commence; the way in which it is proposed to roll out this initiative; his further plans to engage with persons living in direct provision on the matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46106/18]
Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality (Deputy David Stanton): As a result of the recommendations in the McMahon Report, accommodation centres for persons in the protection process are all moving to an independent living model (which includes either self-catering or communal catering). In this model, each resident is assigned a number of points depending on their family composition and residents can procure food and other products such as personal toiletries and hygiene products at a food-hall type facility provided by the contractor.
As the Deputy will be aware, I am making arrangements that for those centres that do not yet have the independent living model in operation and in which women and girls are resident, that supplies of feminine hygiene products will be made available as required.
The costs of providing these feminine hygiene products will be borne by the Department. The initiative will see the contractors who run the centres providing the products to residents with the costs being reimbursed to the contractors. The total level of funding required for the initiative is difficult to forecast as there are a number of factors that will impact on the overall cost. These factors include the changing demographic nature of residents, whether residents wish to avail of the initiative rather than provide the products themselves, and the open procurement process which will see more and more centres move to the Independent Living Model.
Under the Independent Living Model, each resident is assigned a weekly points allocation depending on their family composition. Residents then procure the items that they need on-site from their points allocation. Any points not used in a given week can be utilised in any week within a four week period. The points allocated allow for each resident to choose the foods they eat and the toiletries and personal hygiene products that they want. My Department continue to monitor the application of the Independent Living Model to ensure it is meeting the needs of residents.
The Department has recently commenced a public procurement exercise to seek tenders from contractors to provide accommodation and ancillary services by way of the Independent Living Model to persons in the protection process. This process is scheduled for completion in 2020 and will be delivered via a series of regional competitions to cover the entire State.
Staff from the Department will continue to consult with residents through on-site clinics on all aspects of the accommodation and ancillary services that they receive including this initiative.