225. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of persons in direct provision by number of years they have been there, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30358/19]
Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality (Deputy David Stanton): The figures requested by the Deputy are contained in the following table. It should be noted that the average length of stay in Direct Provision accommodation has reduced from 32 months in 2015 to 24 months at the end of 2018 and significant efforts are being made by my officials to further reduce this period.
More generally, as you are aware, the Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) of my Department is responsible for the offer of accommodation and supports to persons seeking international protection in Ireland. Applicants are free to accept these services or are free to source their own accommodation with family or friends. While previously this was done on an administrative basis, this is now carried out under the EU (recast) Reception Conditions Directive, which was transposed into Irish law in June 2018 by way of SI No. 230 of 2018.
My Department working together with other Departments and agencies has already introduced far-reaching and important reforms to the overall system and this process will continue as we strive to make further improvements in the future. One of the most significant improvements is the introduction of independent living, which allows applicants to obtain food and other products in a specially-constructed food hall in the centre and to cook the food at either communal or individual cooking stations.
As of early April 2019, over 2,200 applicants across eight centres were availing of the independent living model. In addition, almost 1,400 other applicants have access to other self-catering facilities with food provided by the contractor or the applicant themselves. The Department of Justice and Equality anticipates that all of the centres under contract to it will have moved to the independent living model by mid-2020.
In addition, there have been significant improvements to recreation opportunities, such as the provision of outdoor sports pitches, including ‘all-weather’ facilities, teenagers' rooms and family living rooms in centres to provide social areas for particular age groups. Friends of the Centre groups have also been established in each centre. This initiative aims to bring residents, community and voluntary groups together with a view to increasing integration opportunities and providing for the development of greater community linkages with the residents and the centre.
The following figures include over 700 people with a protection status or a permission to remain in the State.
Residents who have been granted status or a permission to remain have the same access to housing supports and services as Irish and EEA nationals. Considerable work is being undertaken to support these residents to move out of accommodation centres and into secure permanent accommodation. RIA have a specific team who work on this. Their work is enhanced through the funded transitional support work provided by DePaul Ireland and the Peter McVerry Trust. A number of NGOs has also been awarded monies under the EU Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF). These include the PATHS project and South Dublin County Partnership.
Additionally, RIA is liaising with officials in the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, and the City and County Managers Association collectively to support residents with permission to remain to access housing options.
Duration of Stay of RIA Residents at July 9th 2019
|By Months||No. of RIA Applicants|