Some very disturbing photographs of a gentlemen in direct provision in St. Patrick's Accommodation Centre in Monaghan were recently circulated on social media. The phenomenon they show is not new. I would like to quote that gentleman:
I am living in St. Patrick's Direct Provision centre in County Monaghan for a long time and sharing a room with 3 persons even during Covid-19 outbreak in this centre. Last week I got this infection all over my skin, I don't know if it is mould in room or the numerous cockroaches and mice.
In the programme for Government we are committed to ensuring that Ireland provides protection to those seeking refuge from conflict, torture and persecution and, in doing so, we agree that direct provision needs to be changed. We have committed to ending direct provision and ensuring that communities are intrinsically involved with and consulted in the provision of accommodation for those who are fleeing their countries, usually due to war.
As of 15 November, 228 people were being accommodated at St. Patrick's Accommodation Centre in Monaghan. Four other premises, hotels and guest houses are used to provide accommodation while a further 183 people are accommodated in temporary accommodation throughout County Monaghan. A significant number of people are in direct provision in County Monaghan alone. I have received numerous calls to my office from people questioning the Government's plans for a further direct provision centre in Ballybay. The Minister's office has said that his Department has no plans for such a development, but it would be most helpful if he could confirm that today.
The Government has committed to the ultimate phasing out of direct provision, which I welcome. As we know, there is nothing humane about the conditions for those living in these facilities. In their current state, the facilities do not provide the proper opportunities to integrate with the communities in which residents are living. Moreover, the local communities are not afforded the proper opportunities to engage with the process, which creates division, suspicion, ill-feeling and separation. I know the scenario I have outlined is not unique to County Monaghan. It is replicated in many centres throughout the country. I would like the Minister to commit to checking on the well-being of the people in St. Patrick's Accommodation Centre. I would like to hear his plans and those of the Government to phase out direct provision in this country.