I propose to take Questions Nos. 40 and 48 together.
The Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) of my Department has been encountering significant upward pressure on its accommodation portfolio. This pressure has increased further in recent months with an increase in the number of persons claiming international protection and a growth in the percentage of protection applicants who require assistance with accommodation. There are upwards of 700 persons residing in accommodation who have permission to remain in Ireland or who have received international protection status.
In order to ensure that the State can continue to provide accommodation for all protection applicants while experiencing a shortage of accommodation nationwide, RIA has, since last September, been forced to arranged for the provision of emergency beds where the mainstream accommodation centres were at capacity. This was done by contacting a large number of accommodation providers and also through a national print advertisement seeking expressions of interest for providing emergency accommodation on a short term basis. RIA is hoping to increase the capacity of the mainstream system by opening new centres.
In December 2018, the Reception and Integration Agency of my Department was informed that residents in emergency accommodation had been removed from their accommodation to facilitate a private function. On behalf of my Department, I wish to state that this was wholly inappropriate and that the Department had no prior knowledge of this decision. RIA addressed the issue directly with the service provider at the time and received assurances it would not happen again. I can assure Deputies that RIA remains in regular contact with emergency accommodation providers and in regular contact with residents through on-site clinics. I am satisfied that this was an isolated incident.
In order to secure suitable accommodation centres for those in the international protection process, my Department is in the process of tendering for suitable premises throughout the country. In relation to Monaghan, a tender covering the border region will be advertised later this year.