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International Protection

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 31 May 2022

Tuesday, 31 May 2022

Questions (506, 507, 508)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

506. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth the number of staff who have been assigned to the implementation of the white paper on ending direct provision from 2021 to date in tabular form. [27692/22]

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Catherine Murphy

Question:

507. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth the current estimated date for the full transition to the new model of accommodation for international protection applicants [27693/22]

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Catherine Murphy

Question:

508. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth when international protection applicants will begin to transition into the new model of accommodation. [27694/22]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

As the Deputy will aware I published A White Paper to End Direct Provision and to Establish a New International Protection Support Service on the 26th of February 2021. In the fourteen months since its publication my department has placed a significant focus on delivering the new model of accommodation and supports for International Protection applicants. The progress made has included:

- Establishment of a dedicated transition team to drive implementation of the programme. This team currently has a staffing level of seven people.

- Development of a detailed implementation plan including inputs from other key stakeholders who have a responsibility for delivering services to International Protection applicants.

- Governance structures established to oversee transition to the new model in the form of a Programme Board and an External Advisory Committee. The membership of the Programme Board includes a representative with lived experience of International Protection and representatives of non-governmental organisations. The Board has met regularly over the past twelve months to review progress. The board most recently met on the 28th April and are due to meet again on the 16th June. As part of the Programme Board governance framework it has appointed a Risk Committee to oversee the management of risks.

- Significant progress has been made on putting in place the new accommodation model.  This work has involved working very closely with the Housing Agency in the development of detailed policy advice papers including an acquisition policy, an ownership model and a funding model. Proposals in relation to the ownership model were brought to the Programme Board in November and approved by myself in January 2022. Work is also ongoing to develop a funding model for Approved Housing Bodies to support them in building a pipeline of Phase Two accommodation. The funding model will be launched in the coming months.

- The County and City Management Association has developed and approved a Local Authority allocation key. The key allows for a distribution of applicants across the country according to population criteria.  DCEDIY and the Housing Agency are using the allocation key to identify suitable properties for purchase for Phase Two accommodation.

- The Housing Agency has proceeded to source a range of properties for Phase Two accommodation and has acquired an initial number to date. Work to source and acquire properties will continue for the remainder of 2022.   

- Work is also moving ahead on developing the system of income support that applicants will receive when moving into Phase Two accommodation. A policy paper has been developed and work is now proceeding to design the operational structures for the payment.

- The Transition Team is also developing an integration programme to support the principle of ‘integration from day one’ as set out in the White Paper. In collaboration with the Local Authorities there has been a focus on designing the supports that will be required at a local level. The proposal is to expand the current model of interagency working groups and resettlement and intercultural workers that is in place for the Irish Refugee Protection Programme.  The aim is to establish a permanent integration system at local level that will provide support both to programme refugees and to applicants for international protection. Work is being finalised to determine the respective roles of Local Authorities and NGOs in delivering the new integration model;

- Work is ongoing to launch an integration fund in the coming months which will fund civil society organisations to support the integration of International Protection applicants;

- A number of stakeholders meetings were held in the early part of 2022 including a briefing of the NGO sector which I was delighted to attend. Over 30 organisations were in attendance and were provided with a comprehensive update on how the implementation of the White Paper is progressing. Further briefings with the NGO sector will be held periodically.

- Development of a Communication strategy including in February 2022 the launch of a dedicated webpage where all members of the Public can find updates on the progress being made in implementing the White Paper. Work will continue in 2022 to develop further, other avenues to ensure communities are fully briefed on implementation of the White Paper.

As deputies will appreciate the war in Ukraine has had an unavoidable impact on timelines for implementation of the White Paper, as staff in the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth were temporarily diverted to fulfill Ireland’s obligations. Upwards of 33,000 Ukrainian refugees have come to Ireland under the Temporary Protection Directive, and over 23,000 have been accommodated by the State.

Over the coming weeks a review will be undertaken to assess the full impact of the Ukraine crisis.  However, it is  currently planned that the transition team will move ahead to operationalise parts of the new system in late 2022. The implementation of the new model is and will continue to be a key priority for my department.

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