On 15 August, Minister Flanagan and I published the National Standards for accommodation offered to people in the international protection process. The Standards were prepared by a Standards Advisory Group, established in 2017 and comprising officials from my Department, the Department of Children and Youth Affairs and the HSE National Office for Social Inclusion as well as representatives from UNHCR Ireland, AkiDwA, the Children's Rights Alliance, the Core Group of Asylum Seekers and Refugees, the Jesuit Refugee Service and SPIRASI. The Standards will come into force in January 2021.
The Standards address a range of themes including accommodation; food and catering; individual, community and family life; health and wellbeing; governance; and meeting the special reception needs of applicants. They build upon the important work of the 2015 McMahon Report and implement the requirements of the EU recast Reception Conditions Directive, which we voluntarily opted into last year.
I am committed to developing a robust independent inspection process to monitor and ensure compliance with the Standards following their implementation. It is important to note, however, that at present all accommodation centres are subject to regular unannounced inspections by both staff of my Department and an independent inspector.
The on-going public procurement process for accommodation was also designed to ensure that all centres will adhere to the National Standards.
Work on the development of a suitable inspection process for the Standards is underway. The arrangements will be announced in due course when finalised.