Jack Quann
Jack Quann

19.39 22 Nov 2019


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The Department of Justice has said it is not seeking "anywhere near" 5,500 additional accommodation places in direct provision centres.

An earlier report in the Irish Times suggested nearly 5,500 asylum seekers were to be housed in new direct provision centres across the country.

However the department said the number of additional bed spaces any potential new centres will bring "will only become clear" once all tenders are completed.

"Assuming the majority of existing centres remain in the system, the department will not be seeking anywhere near 5,500 additional new accommodation places", a statement from the department says.

"Nor has it suggested it would. Indeed, the current excess demand is reflected in the number of people currently being accommodated in emergency accommodation (approx. 1,500)."

It notes that almost 7,600 people are being housed in direct provision centres, hotels or guesthouses.

There are currently 39 accommodation centres in operation throughout the State, accommodating 6,058 people.

Seven of those centres are State-owned and provide approximately 1,140 bed spaces.

The other 32 centres are privately-owned, and provide almost 5,000 bed spaces.

It also says that contracts are signed with private service providers for a set period of time, after which a new contract must be signed in order for the service provider to continue to operate in the sector.

Charlie Flanagan on citizenship Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan arrives for the National Day of Commemoration Ceremony, held to honour all Irishmen and Irishwomen who died in past wars or on service with the United Nations, at Collins Barracks in Dublin.

But it says "due to a sharp rise" of almost 60% in persons seeking international protection this year, there are also 37 hotels and guesthouses being utilised by the department to provide short-term accommodation.

These are offering bed and full-board services to approximately 1,500 people.

The department says it has "consistently made clear that this is a temporary measure which will only be continued until sufficient places are available within the accommodation centre system for all those who wish to avail of the offer of accommodation while their application is being processed."

Regional procurement

Last December, the department started a regional procurement process - the outcome of which will determine which service providers will operate or continue to operate into the future.

This was to identify an additional supply of premises to meet increased demand for accommodation, and to implement a higher standard across all new and existing accommodation centres.

It is also being used to address the recommendation of the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) that the department's use of accommodation and ancillary services for asylum seekers should be in line with EU procurement requirements.

The department says it has "made clear" that all existing accommodation providers operating in the system will need to come through the tendering process "if they wish to continue operating in the sector beyond the expiration of their existing contract."

"It is clearly one of the aims of the tendering process that newly identified centres will come on stream as a result of the process, and that the department will therefore be in a position to bring an end to the use of emergency accommodation.

"It is very important to note however that, as a result of the requirement for existing contractors to enter the tendering process if they wish to continue to operate in the sector, it can reasonably be anticipated that the majority of the bed spaces to be provided under the tender will continue to be accounted for by existing centres already operating."

It adds that in future, all centres providing accommodation are required to apply the new enhanced standards.


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Accommodation Centres Accommodation Places Asylum Seekers Department Of Justice Direct Provision Direct Provision Centres EU Procurement Requirements Short-term Accommodation

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