As the Deputy will be aware, the State has a legal obligation to offer accommodation, food and a range of other services (including meals, utilities, healthcare etc.) and allowances to any person who claims a right to international protection in Ireland while their legal claim is being examined.
The number of applicants has been steadily increasing (up 36% since the start of the year) and to cope with demand, my Department has invited premises to tender to offer accommodation and other services through a nationwide regional procurement process using the etenders website. Additionally, advertisements were placed in the national press seeking expressions of interest from accommodation providers for suitable accommodation, which my Department could contract for twelve months. Accommodation providers can offer premises through either or both processes.
An evaluation of offers received is now underway. It is anticipated that the evaluation process for the Western region will conclude by mid November 2019. For the purposes of the tender, the Western region covers Galway, Mayo and Roscommon. Until the evaluation is complete, the Deputy will appreciate that I cannot comment on the possible location of any new centres. When the evaluation and commercially sensitive aspects of the process are completed, my Department will begin engagement with local communities and their political representatives.
We currently have 38 accommodation centres across 18 counties and there are positive relationships between residents and local communities in all cases including through the Friends of the Centre Groups.