Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Ceisteanna (426)

Derek Nolan

Ceist:

426. Deputy Derek Nolan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if any direct provision centres are owned by companies registered offshore; if so, if he will provide the details of the companies involved and the direct provision centres they run; if he will indicate the amount these companies are being paid by the State on a yearly basis; the reasons for giving a contract of this nature to a company not based in this country; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12041/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) of my Department is responsible for the accommodation of asylum seekers in accordance with the Government policy of direct provision and dispersal. Currently, there are over 4,300 residents in 34 centres across the State under contract to RIA. Details of all of these centres and the companies or persons RIA has contracted to provide accommodation services are published in RIA's Annual Reports. The 2013 Annual Report will be published at the end of this month. Only one centre closed in 2013 - Cliffview in Donegal - so the contract details shown in the 2012 Annual Report remain otherwise unchanged.

In fulfilling its general accommodation responsibilities, RIA does not own, lease or rent premises from commercial contractors. Rather, it contracts in a comprehensive range of services and facilities, including accommodation, housekeeping and so on, for a fixed sum over the period of a contract. It is a condition of contract with the RIA that the contractor has good title to the centre, but this does not specify either owning, renting or leasing the building concerned. There is no contractual requirement for companies providing services to the Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) of my Department that they be registered in Ireland, although RIA understands that all contracting companies are so registered. In certain cases, it may well be that the company concerned is unlimited or that the beneficial owners or part-owners include companies registered in off-shore jurisdictions but those are business decisions for the contractors concerned. It is a condition of the contract that a valid Tax Clearance Certificate from the Revenue Commissioners is provided every year. From RIA's perspective, the critical criterion is that the contractors can fulfil the terms of their contracts with RIA.

The registration status of a company is no prohibition to the release of information concerning payments under the relevant contract, with the proviso that details of current contract rates are not provided. It is not possible to provide values for current contracts entered into by RIA. Negotiations take place with a number of commercial entities on an ongoing basis and RIA endeavours to achieve the best value for money in respect of each contract. It is not in the interests of the taxpayer that details of current individual contracts are known to the public or to other parties who are, or may be in the future, engaged in negotiations with RIA.

RIA's policy on the release of contract information is that it updates the table of contracts at the end of January each year in respect of all financial information up to the end of December two years previously. For example, at the end of January, 2014 the records were updated to end of December 2011. This policy has been upheld by the Office of the Information Commissioner. RIA currently makes available on request contract details for all contracts to the end of 2011, the tables for which provide a context for the moneys paid for each contract, such as the length of the contract and the number of persons for which services are contracted.