On 8th January 2018, the Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) of my Department published a call for expressions of interest in the national press and EC Journal.
This call sought expressions of interest from parties who would be interested in providing accommodation and related services on a urgent and emergency basis. This was issued in response to the urgent and unforeseen demand for accommodation and related services from those persons arriving in the state seeking international protection. The closing date for receipt of expressions of interest was the 28th January 2018.
In total, just under 20 premises were offered to the Department of which 11 were made available for inspection. The criteria against which the Department assessed the offers of accommodation were availability, standard of property, ability to provide communal social spaces for residents, ability to cater at mealtimes and proximity to required services such as schools, shops, post office etc.
It should be noted that these premises were offered to the Department by individual contractors across the country. The Department did not randomly choose any one location over another location.
Following on-site assessments carried out by staff in the Department, the offer of the King Thomond Hotel in Lisdoonvarna was deemed to the most suitable premises offered to the Department. The premises is available, decorated to a high standard, capable of providing meals to residents, has scope to provide the required communal social areas required by residents and is located close to a town with both primary and secondary schools, shops and a post office.
As with every other accommodation centre in the country, my Department works closely with the HSE and Departments of Education & Skills and Employment Affairs and Social Protection and all other relevant Government Departments and Agencies to coordinate the delivery of State services to residents.
Specifically in relation to the medical needs of residents of the centre in Lisdoonvarna, the HSE has confirmed that it will provide a mobile health screening unit that will provide a full medical history for review by a local General Practitioner who will ultimately provide on-going services.
Additional medical services will be provided through the existing mainstream services (all services to those in the protection process are mainstreamed by the relevant State agency or Department).
Any children who are residents of the Centre will access schools locally. English language supports are provided to school children through the established EAL (English as an Additional Language) support services in schools. English language training is provided on-site to adults by the local Educational Training Board.
I wish to clearly state that, as is the case in all other accommodation centres, supports from Government offices and agencies will be provided to residents of the Centre. My Department will work closely with Centre management, the local community, volunteers and NGOs to ensure that the supports available to people resident in accommodation centres throughout the country are available to the residents of the King Thomond Centre in Lisdoonvarna.