Persons running for or in public office should ensure that they are familiar with the policy issues in relation to immigration and integration. To that end my Department is happy, subject to the constraints specified below, to facilitate visits to accommodation centres for asylum seekers and refugees. Such visits are organised on regular occasions, for example, for members of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice and Equality.
The House Rules for state-provided accommodation centres (including Emergency Reception and Orientation Centres) include the arrangements to be followed for any visitors to the centre. This is to ensure that visits are confined to public areas of centres only, ensuring that the privacy of residents take priority. Visits by elected representatives or candidates for public office to the centre must receive advance permission from the centre manager. This was the procedure followed in relation to the visit referred to by the Deputy.
During the visit and at the invitation of the centre manager, a number of residents of the centre took the opportunity to discuss their journey to Ireland and their views on the public discourse relating to immigration in Ireland. No resident was obliged to participate, and no resident invited to speak to the visitor refused to do so. No officials from my Department were in attendance at the centre during this visit.
Should the Deputy or any member of the Oireachtas wish to visit an accommodation centre, I would be happy to facilitate them, subject to the necessary constraints to respect the privacy of residents.