Wednesday, 10 February 2021

Questions (537, 569)

Jennifer Whitmore

Question:

537. Deputy Jennifer Whitmore asked the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth if his attention has been drawn to the case of a person who is on hunger strike in a direct provision centre (details supplied); the support being provided to the person; if he will examine the mental health needs of persons in direct provision, particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6420/21]

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Thomas Pringle

Question:

569. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth if he will report on the hunger strike by a person (details supplied) in County Meath; the procedures for such instances; the reason An Garda Síochána would be involved; if reports are filed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7309/21]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 537 and 569 together.

I am aware of the incident in the accommodation centre as referred to by the Deputies which I understand has now ended.

The IPAS worked closely with the accommodation centre staff, relevant state agencies and other service providers with regard to the resident’s needs and situation for the duration of the incident. Such engagement will continue to ensure that the required health needs are met through the onsite medical services at the centre which includes a full primary care service and nursing staff.

I can assure the Deputies that the health and wellbeing of all people who avail of accommodation provided by my Department is of the highest priority to my Department.

Where 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. The IPAS work closely with the HSE screening team to ensure that Protection applicants are moved to locations where their medical needs can be met.

It is important to note that services for all International Protection applicants (including health services) are mainstreamed. Protection applicants are linked with primary care services (GPs). They are entitled to a medical card while residing in International Protection accommodation and have a waiver of prescription charges. Applicants access health services through the same referral pathways as Irish citizens including referral to disability and mental health services. Every effort is made to ensure that residents' specific needs are met.