The State offers accommodation, food and a range of other services (including healthcare, utilities, a weekly personal allowance etc.) to any person who arrives in the State seeking international protection. No one is obliged to accept this offer and applicants can choose to stay with friends or family living in the community or to source and provide for their own accommodation if they have the means to do so.
As the Deputy will appreciate, it is not possible to predict how many people will arrive in any given year or indeed on any given day seeking international protection. The current system ensures that applicants can receive shelter, food and other essential services immediately upon their arrival.
More than 60,000 vulnerable people have been assisted by my Department since the Direct Provision system was introduced, including many families with children. Currently, my Department is accommodating more than 7,400 people.
People who are seeking international protection have a temporary right to reside in the State while we are examining their claim. Anyone who receives a positive decision on their application has the same rights to State services and supports, including housing, as nationals and EEA nationals. My Department is currently continuing to accommodate over 900 people who have been granted an international protection status or a permission to remain while we assist them to transition to mainstream housing. We are working with the Local Authorities and the City and County Managers Association, in addition to providing funding support to organisations like DePaul Ireland and the Peter McVerry Trust, to provide all possible assistance to help these people to move on from centres. This is extremely important for their integration in our local communities and to foster independence as they begin their new lives.