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International Protection

Dáil Éireann Debate, Thursday - 3 December 2020

Thursday, 3 December 2020

Questions (131)

Catherine Connolly


131. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth the number of vulnerability assessments carried out on persons in the international protection process for each of the years 2018, 2019 and to date in 2020; when vulnerability assessments will be carried out in respect of all persons in the international protection process within 30 working days of making an application for protection in line with Ireland’s obligations pursuant to the EU Reception Conditions Directive and S.I. No 230/2018 European Communities (Reception Conditions) Regulations 2018 and as recommended in the recently published report on the Advisory Group on the Provision of Support including Accommodation to Persons in the International Protection Process; and if he will make a statement on the matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40644/20]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

Discussions are ongoing between my Department ##officials and the HSE to enable formal vulnerability assessments for international protection applicants by the end of the year. This will ensure that a coherent process is in place for both the health and non-health aspects required in formalised assessments.

To assist in determining how best we can meet the health and related needs of applicants, the HSE National Office for Social Inclusion has commissioned research to explore the concept of vulnerability with a view to further improving our existing processes and I look forward to the outcome of this research.

At present every effort is made to ensure that residents' specific needs are met. While we do not maintain statistics on assessments, my Department officials routinely identify vulnerabilities and assess applicants for any special reception needs to meet their accommodation requirements. This is especially the case for families with young children and for applicants with a disability.

If a protection applicant chooses to accept an offer of accommodation from my Department, they will, in normal circumstances, be first brought to the National Reception Centre in Balseskin, Dublin. At Balseskin, they will be offered a health assessment by the on-site HSE team, which comprises a nurse, nurse specialist, area medical officer, general practitioners, social worker and psychologist. This ensures that applicants can be assessed for any special reception needs that they may have before they are designated an accommodation centre.

Safetynet, a primary care health service, carries out health screening, on behalf of the HSE, in a number of the temporary accommodation locations currently in use by the Department. The International Protection Accommodation Service works closely with the HSE screening team and with Safetynet to ensure that protection applicants are moved to locations where their medical needs can be met. They also work collaboratively to ensure that any special accommodation arrangements are in place as required.

During the COVID pandemic, assessments have also been made for older residents to ensure that their cocooning needs are met. Where more intensive healthcare needs are required, such cases are referred directly to the HSE.