Thursday, 26 September 2019

Ceisteanna (108)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

108. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if a person (details supplied) can remain in an accommodation centre; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39228/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The International Protection Accommodation Services (IPAS) division of my Department, formerly the Reception and Integration Agency (RIA), offers accommodation and related services to anyone claiming international protection who is without sufficient means to support themselves while their claim is being examined.

There is no obligation on anyone to accept the offer of accommodation and not every applicant takes up the offer of accommodation. Many choose not to do so and make other arrangements. Consideration of a person's international protection application is not affected by their accommodation arrangements provided that they keep the Department informed of their current accommodation address.

Accommodation, where required, is provided under the European Communities (Reception Conditions) Regulations 2018 which came in to effect in June 2018. A person offered accommodation under the Regulations is required to comply with the house rules of the accommodation centre.

Part of the role of both the International Protection Accommodation Service of my Department and individual accommodation centre management is to ensure that those who request and are allocated accommodation within the IPAS portfolio access it on a consistent basis. House rules require residents to keep the centre management informed if they are to be absent overnight. Regular absences would indicate that the person is not living there in the normal course. Clearly if a person is allocated accommodation but ceases using it consistently, it would be wrong not to re-allocate it to an international protection applicant who genuinely requires it.

When it comes to the attention of IPAS that a resident does not appear to be using their accommodation allocation consistently, and the person has not given centre management an explanation as to why this is the case, IPAS staff liaise with centre management to manage the situation. In a case where IPAS is satisfied that accommodation is not being used consistently, the resident will be issued a letter advising them that if they do not use their accommodation space, that space will be re-allocated to another applicant in need. If the resident continues to be absent from their accommodation without explanation, a letter will be sent to them (at that centre), advising them that their accommodation space has been deemed abandoned and will be reallocated to another protection applicant. This letter will be held by management until the person presents in the centre to collect their post.

It is open to residents to respond to the initial letter and provide any evidence that they are indeed availing of the accommodation. If IPAS is satisfied that this is the case then the matter will be closed at that stage and the accommodation will not be reallocated. Once the final letter is issued, advising the resident that the space has been deemed abandoned, the matter will not be re-opened for consideration. However, they resident can, if they choose, apply in writing to RIA asking to be re-accommodated. However, a subsequent offer of accommodation may not be for the same accommodation centre as had previously been provided.