Written Answers. - Asylum Applications.

Bernard Allen

Ceist:

478 Mr. Allen asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the regulations governing premises for housing refugees and asylum seekers; and the frequency with which inspections take place. [28059/01]

The Reception and Integration Agency, RIA, is responsible,inter alia, for meeting the accommodation needs of asylum seekers under the system of dispersal and direct provision which was introduced in April 2000. Under this system, the agency provides full board accommodation to asylum seekers in a number of settings including hostels, guest houses and former hotels while their claims for refugee status are being determined. Persons granted refugee status are entitled to access housing of every tenure on the same basis as Irish citizens.

The RIA currently has a portfolio of 76 accommodation centres and nine reception centres located across 24 counties. Each property used for providing accommodation and ancillary services to asylum seekers is inspected by officials from the agency prior to its use for the purpose of ascertaining its suitability. If, following such an inspection, a property is deemed suitable, a comprehensive memorandum of agreement is entered into by the proprietor and the agency. In the case of State owned properties, such agreements are entered into with management companies.

Under the terms of these agreements, proprietors and management companies are required to ensure that the premises comply and operate in accordance with all statutory requirements of local authorities and other agencies in relation to planning, building by-laws, bedroom capacity, food, food hygiene, water supply, sewage disposal, fire precautions and general safety.

The inspectorate unit within the RIA conducts regular unannounced inspections of each location where asylum seekers are accommodated. Since the system of dispersal and direct provision was introduced in April 2000, at least three full day inspections have been carried out on each property in operation for the period and additional unannounced short duration inspections are carried out on an ongoing basis. Diminutions in standards which come to light as a result of such inspections are treated very seriously by the agency and can lead to termination of contracts where this is deemed to be warranted.
Question No. 479 withdrawn.