As the Deputy is aware, as a result of the recommendations in the McMahon Report, accommodation centres for persons in the protection process are all moving to an independent living model (which includes either self-catering or communal catering). In this model, each resident is assigned a number of points depending on their family composition and residents can procure food, personal toiletries and hygiene products at a food-hall type facility provided by the contractor.
As part of a wide ranging public procurement project, a series of open procurement processes are underway between now and the end of 2019 for accommodation centres throughout the state for persons seeking international protection. This tender specifies that only bids that conform to the independent living model, as set out above, will qualify.
While the present contract requires each resident to be provided with certain toiletry items (soap, shampoo, toothpaste and toilet paper), there is no contractual obligation to provide other personal items for women or men such as menstrual hygiene products or razors.
My understanding is that the costs of such items was to be covered by the payment of the direct provision allowance. This allowance will be increased to €38.80 for each adult and €29.80 for each child in March 2019. This will result in increases in this allowance of 103% for adults and 91% for children since 2017.
Notwithstanding the foregoing, I am making arrangements that for those centres that do not yet have the independent living model in operation and in which women and girls are resident, that supplies of menstrual hygiene products will be made available as required.