Wednesday, 25 September 2019

Questions (96)

Catherine Connolly


96. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality further to Parliamentary Question No. 128 of 18 September 2019, the number of groups (details supplied) that have been established; the organisation responsible for establishing each group; the terms of reference for the establishment of each group; the needs analysis carried out for each group; the funding provided for each group; the additional supports provided for each group; the degree to which he engages these groups; the review procedures in place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38938/19]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

The establishment of a “Friends of the Centre” group in each centre providing accommodation to persons seeking international protection was a key recommendation of the Report of the Working Group on Improvements to the Protection Process, including Direct Provision and Supports to Asylum Seekers (known as The McMahon Report). All 38 accommodation centres plus the reception centre at Balseskin, have Friends of the Centre Groups.

The purpose of a Friends of the Centre Group is to facilitate links between the residents of accommodation centres and local community, voluntary and sporting groups. It is a contractual obligation for our contractors to provide for Friends of the Centre Groups. The operation of the group is facilitated by staff from the accommodation centre. For example, the operator of the centre must make a room available to facilitate meetings. The composition of each group varies from centre to centre but will include staff members, residents and volunteers from the local community. Officials from the Department will occasionally attend meetings particularly if invited by the group to do so. All aspects of the accommodation system for international protection applicants is kept under continuous review.

The scope of and the types of activities engaged in by the group vary from centre to centre. They reflect the type of residents being accommodated in a centre and also the voluntary groups that are active in a particular locality. For example, the activities engaged in by a group based in a centre that accommodates only single adults will be different to those engaged in by a group based on a centre accommodating families. Examples of groups that have engaged with Friends of the Centre include local Tidy Towns committees, sports clubs, men’s sheds and Mother and Baby clubs. Activities in the centres are eligible to apply for funding under the Communities Integration Fund (CIF). The Friends of The Centre in Ballaghaderreen have received €5,000 funding on 17 September under the Communities Integration Fund for 2019.