51. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality her plans to end the practice of housing persons seeking asylum in direct provision. [40421/16]
Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality (Deputy David Stanton): While the operation of the system of State provided accommodation and the direct delivery of services such as education and health to residents therein is kept under continual review, there are no plans to replace it with any other system at present.
This is a system which facilitates the State in providing the essential and necessary accommodation and related services to all in the protection process who require it and which has provided accommodation to more than 56,000 people since its establishment. It allows the State to provide such accommodation in a manner that facilitates resources being used in the most economic means possible while also delivering services (such as education and health) directly to those within the system.
Accommodation is offered to all those seeking asylum in Ireland and approximately 50% of applicants accept that offer. Residents are free to leave that accommodation at any time and many chose to do so.
One of the key recommendations of the Report of the Working Group on Improvements to the protection process including Direct Provision and Supports to Asylum Seekers was the introduction of a single application procedure in the protection process. The International Protection Act 2015 provides for such a procedure. My Department is currently preparing all of the steps necessary to commence the Act which responds to some 26 of the Working Group’s recommendations and can be expected to positively address the crucial issue of the length of time that applicants spend in the protection process and by extension in State provided accommodation.