Wednesday, 10 February 2021

Questions (533)

Seán Canney

Question:

533. Deputy Seán Canney asked the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth his plans to cease the use of direct provision centres; his plans to provide independent living for persons living in such centres for a period in excess of six months; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6381/21]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

The Programme for Government contains a commitment to ending the Direct Provision system and replacing it with a new International Protection accommodation policy, centred on a not-for-profit approach. The Government has also committed to the development of a White Paper which will set out how this new system will be structured and the steps to achieving it.

My Department is currently developing the White Paper, which will set out options, together with the recommended direction, for the new model of accommodation and services for International Protection applicants and the transitional processes needed to implement the model. Options for developing a not-for-profit approach are currently being examined in this regard.

Good progress has been made on drafting the White Paper and work is now focusing on testing the accommodation proposals that will be contained in it. In view of the extent of change proposed, the White Paper will take some more time than originally envisaged and I now expect it will be submitted to Government later this month.

It is recognised by all involved that the replacement of the current system is complex and it will take some time. Therefore, in order to meet our legal obligations to provide accommodation and other support services for protection applicants, existing accommodation centres will continue to operate in the short to medium term while we progress to the new model. However, in doing so we will be focusing on the provision of own-door accommodation and facilities to allow for independent living (access to cooking and laundry facilities and communal family areas outside bedrooms) and working to cease our use of emergency accommodation in hotels and guest-houses.