I propose to take Questions Nos. 41 and 166 together.
The National Standards for Accommodation offered to persons in the protection process (“National Standards”) were published in August 2019. The National Standards apply to the living conditions and services provided to residents within accommodation centres. They apply to all service providers contracted by the International Protection Accommodation Service (IPAS) of my Department to operate and manage accommodation and reception centres (also known as contractors).
The National Standards were developed through an Advisory Group that included representatives from Government Departments, state agencies, UNHCR Ireland and the NGO sector. The Standards are due to come into force in January 2021 and will 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. These reforms aim to build on the improvements arising from recommendations in the McMahon Report and meet the requirements of the EU Recast Reception Conditions Directive (Directive 2013/33/EU) which we voluntarily opted into in June 2018.
While my Department currently holds responsibility for the implementation of standards and reception conditions, this responsibility will shortly transfer to my colleague, the Minister for Children, Disability, Equality and Integration once the Transfer of Functions is completed.
A White Paper considering the totality of the international protection process, including the provision of accommodation, is due to be published by the end of this year. It will be a matter for Minister O’Gorman to decide on how the National Standards will be implemented as part of this process.