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. I expect to submit the White Paper 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 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.
In the interim period between now and the new model being fully operational and as current contracts reach their expiry date, an assessment will be undertaken with respect to the demand for accommodation services at that time and the capacity within the Department’s accommodation portfolio to meet that demand. Any decision to extend current contractual arrangements will be based on that assessment.