Tuesday, 29 September 2020

Ceisteanna (687, 701)

Louise O'Reilly

Ceist:

687. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Justice if her Department will ensure there is a fair complaints procedure for persons in direct provision centres in view of the fact that they have no or very little recourse to respond to abuse of power or neglect by staff, managers or owners of direct provision centres. [26772/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

John Lahart

Ceist:

701. Deputy John Lahart asked the Minister for Justice if she has considered, in the context of direct provision centres, the fact that there appears to be no fair complaint procedure for the members of communities in direct provision and they have no way to respond to an abuse of power or to neglect. [26456/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 687 and 701 together.

My Department takes any complaints from residents very seriously and all residents are made fully aware of their ability to contact my Department at any time in confidence.

There are fair complaints procedures in place for residents. Where appropriate, most complaints should be brought to the centre manager in the first instance. This also applies to international protection applicants who have been provided accommodation in hotels or guest houses as a temporary measure.

If the resident is not satisfied with the outcome, he or she can make a complaint directly to the International Protection Accommodation Service (IPAS) of my Department, which will be investigated by my officials and acted on appropriately. If the matter is still not resolved to the resident's satisfaction, she or he can raise a complaint with the Offices of the Ombudsman or the Ombudsman for Children, as appropriate, for investigation by their officials.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, IPAS also held regular clinics in accommodation centres where applicants were invited to meet an IPAS officer in person and to raise any issues or concerns directly with him or her. These clinics will resume once public health officials advise that it is safe to do so. In the interim, virtual clinics have been held in some centres which enable issues to be raised. A confidential Freephone support service run by the Jesuit Refugee Service with funding from my Department has also been established as an additional support for residents during this time.

It will be a matter for my colleague, the Minister for Children, Disability, Equality and Integration, following the transfer of this function to his Department to make any decisions around future accommodation and service provision, including any new complaints procedure.