As of mid-July 2019, 13 accommodation centres, accommodating 2,710 persons seeking international protection, are operating under the Independent Living model. Independent Living is a system where residents can obtain food, toiletries and other products for personal use from a dedicated Food Hall in a centre using a cashless points system. In addition, residents have access to cooking facilities where they can prepare their own meals. The introduction of Independent Living into accommodation centres was one of the main recommendations of the McMahon Report.
In August 2018, my Department, in conjunction with the Office of Government Procurement (OGP) commenced the first in a series of regional competitions to procure accommodation and associated services for persons seeking international protection. The Request for Tender (RFT) documentation for each competition specifies that award of a contract is conditional on the implementation of Independent Living and the provision of family living spaces. At present, two competitions have been completed, and the recommendations of the McMahon report have been implemented in the centres concerned. My Department anticipates that the completion of the regional RFTs in 2020 will see the implementation of Independent Living and the provision of family living spaces in all commercially-operated centres.
In respect of the seven state-owned accommodation centres, independent living has already been introduced in Athlone and officials from my Department are in discussions with officials from the Office of Public Works regarding the implementation of Independent Living in the six remaining State-owned accommodation centres.