Types of accommodation

Republic of Ireland

Country Report: Types of accommodation Last updated: 30/11/20

Author

Irish Refugee Council Visit Website

Direct Provision centres

 

Available accommodation within the Direct Provision estate has been decreasing since 2016, due to a number of factors, including the expiry of contracts between IPAS and accommodation providers and the ongoing housing crisis which is reducing available accommodation sites. During 2019, IPAS added 735 bed spaces to their portfolio, through an increase in the capacity of existing centres and with the opening of three new accommodation centres. IPAS also managed the closing of the Hatch Hall accommodation centre in Dublin, therefore the net increase in 2019 of bed spaces was 515 in total.[1] Despite this, the rise in the number of applicants led to 1,559 protection applicants being placed in temporary accommodation by the end of 2019.

The Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality with special responsibility for Equality, Immigration and Integration confirmed that accommodation in Direct Provision is prioritised for new arrivals, particularly families and other vulnerable people.[2] In the experience of the Irish Refugee Council in 2019, requests for re-entry into Direct Provision under the Regulations – by people who had not taken up an initial offer of accommodation or have since experienced a change in their circumstance – have been refused on the ground of a lack of accommodation or have been subject to considerable delays. The personal circumstances of persons living outside Direct Provision are generally unknown and figures are not maintained by IPAS. In terms of people who lived in Direct Provision and then subsequently left it for whatever reasons whilst their asylum application was pending, for example to live with family members, a partner or friends, it is very difficult to access the Direct Provision system again, should their situation change.

As of May 2020, there were 47 Direct Provision accommodation centres located nationwide. There were a further 33 emergency accommodation locations such as in hotels and guest houses. Approximately 7,700 people resided in Direct Provision and emergency accommodation.[3]

IPAS ceased to publish data in 2018. The last statistics were contained in the RIA Monthly Report November 2018. The IPAS has yet to issue any official data in relation to the accommodation of international protection applicants since it was created in 2019 as a result of the division of RIA in two sections. Nevertheless, some statistics for 2019 have been made available by the Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality in response to parliamentary questions. The capacity and occupancy of Direct Provisions centres in 2018 and 2019 were as follows:

 

Capacity and occupancy of Direct Provision centres

 

2018

2019

Centre

Capacity

Occupancy

Capacity[4]

Occupancy[5]

Reception centres

 

 

Balseskin

320

249

487

433

Self-catering centres

 

 

Louth

74

60

74

71

Accommodation centres (by county)

 

 

Clare

365

363

365

372

Cork

972

929

990

955

Dublin

475

459

250

236

Galway

372

353

372

341

Kerry

490

458

490

461

Kildare

233

201

295

259

Laois

265

256

265

257

Limerick

203

198

203

200

Longford

80

74

80

79

Mayo

245

234

245

217

Meath

600

619

600

735

Monaghan

175

165

212

214

Sligo

218

212

218

199

Tipperary

161

147

161

152

Waterford

408

406

408

407

Westmeath

379

343

400

385

Total

6,025

5,726

6,115

5,973

Source: RIA, Statistics, November 2018, https://bit.ly/3eKWyVB; Department of Justice. Please note that there can be more than one centre located in a county.

 

The 2019 figures provided above on capacity and occupancy were valid as of July 2019 and October 2019 respectively. Approximately 7,700 people resided in Direct Provision and emergency accommodation.

Of those centres in the IPAS portfolio, only three were built (“system built”) for the express purpose of accommodating protection applicants. The majority of the portfolio comprises buildings which had a different initial purpose i.e. former hotels, guesthouses (B&B), hostels, former convents / nursing Homes, a holiday camp and a mobile home site. IPAS is considering the option of moving towards a capital investment based approach in the provision of accommodation, that would involve building customised facilities.[6]

There are seven single male only accommodation centres. There is one female-only reception centre in Killarney, Kerry named Park Lodge. The centre has an occupancy rate of 44 out of 55 places.[7]

The Balseskin reception centre, with a capacity of 487 is designated as a reception centre where all newly arrived protection applicants are accommodated. The centre as of 13 October 2019 had an occupancy rate of 433 out of 487 places.[8]

Seven centres are state-owned: Knockalisheen, Clare; Kinsale Road, Cork; Atlas House Killarney, Atlas House Tralee, Johnston Marina and Park Lodge, Kerry; and Athlone, Westmeath. All reception centres are operated by private external service providers who have a contract with IPAS. Seven centres are owned by the Irish State with the remainder privately owned. Executive responsibility for the day-to-day management of reception centres lies with the private agencies, which provide services such as accommodation, catering, housekeeping etc. As of 2019, there are 25 private companies that have a contract for services with the Department of Justice for the provision of premises that meet required standards and support services for protection applicants.[9] Of these companies, two have a contract to provide management, catering, housekeeping and general maintenance services in state owned accommodation centres.[10] It is the role of the Department of Justice to oversee the provision of these services, which has established a High Level Interdepartmental Group tasked with ensuring better coordination of provision of services and meeting needs in the short to medium term.[11] Moreover, the National Standards developed establish a minimum set of standards for reception centres to meet by January 2021 if they are to continue providing services.[12] The Department of Justice stated that to ensure compliance, an independent inspection mechanism will be established to monitor premises and services.[13] The National Standards will be legally binding and subject to monitoring by January 2021.[14]

IPAS retains overall responsibility for the accommodation of applicants for international protection in the direct provision system. The Minister for Justice and Equality has stated that residents are not ‘in the care’ of the State but rather the State has a ‘duty of care’ which it discharges via external contractors.[15]

 

Emergency Accommodation Beds

 

In September 2018, the Direct Provision estate reached capacity and no accommodation was available for newly arriving protection applicants, as the Balseskin centre had no available places. A precise figure is not available, but over the course of a single weekend, a minimum of 20 newly arrived protection applicants were not provided with any material receptions and were informed that no accommodation was available, rendering them homeless on arrival in Ireland.[16] After intensive representations and media attention on the issue, alternative accommodation was provided by IPAS on an emergency basis. This involved the contracting of accommodation in hotels and holiday homes to house protection applicants on a temporary basis pending IPAS contracting for more permanent accommodation centres.[17] These centres are known as “satellite centres”.

In 2019, this was still an ongoing issue, with accommodation centres still at capacity and protection applicants being placed by IPAS in emergency accommodation in hotels, guest houses and bed and breakfast.

Although the Department of Justice has repeatedly stated that “every effort is being made to re-accommodate applicants in emergency locations to a dedicated accommodation centre as quickly as possible,”[18] it has been reported that people find themselves living in emergency accommodation for up to sixteen months.[19]

The efforts being made to source additional accommodation have proven to be insufficient to tackle this issue in 2019. As of December 2019, 1,559 protection applicants were residing in 37 emergency accommodation locations.[20] This is an increase of more than seven times the number of people in emergency accommodation since in 2018, 202 persons were residing in five hotels. The living conditions in these emergency accommodation locations are clearly unsuitable for the needs of protection applicants, and fail to fulfil IPAS’s obligations under the EU recast Reception Conditions Directive.[21]

No statistics has been made publicly available by IPAS on the capacity and occupancy of emergency accommodation locations in 2019.  The latest available data was contained in the RIA Monthly Report November 2018. The IPAS has yet to issue any official data in relation to the accommodation of international protection applicants since it was created in 2019 as a result of the division of RIA in two sections. When the Department of Justice has been asked to provide information on the location and number of emergency accommodation, they have refused to give any detailed information. The data proportioned has been limited arguing that “RIA has a legal duty to protect the identities of persons in the international protection process and must be mindful of the right to privacy of applicants when responding to specific queries.”[22]

 

Emergency Reception and Orientation Centres (EROC)

 

Emergency Reception and Orientation Centres (EROC) were specifically designed for the accommodation of persons arriving in Ireland through relocation and resettlement.[23] There are three EROC with a total capacity of 375 places:

 

Capacity and occupancy of EROC

 

2018

2019

Centre

Capacity

Occupancy

Capacity

Occupancy

Waterford (Clonea)

120

80

125

95

Roscommon (Ballaghadereen)

230

113

200

185

Meath (Mosney)

150

105

50

50

Total

500

298

375

330

Source: RIA, Statistics, November 2018, https://bit.ly/3eKWyVB, Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality, David Stanton, Reply to Parliamentary Question No 31, 20 November 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/2Kun0Vz.

 


[1]  Ombudsman, ‘The Ombudsman & Direct Provision: Update for 2019’, April 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/2Xku2Dr.

[2] Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality, David Stanton, Reply to Parliamentary Question No 413, 6 November 2018, available at: https://bit.ly/2TdyIH2.

[3] Statement of Oonagh Buckley at Special Committee on Covid-19 Response: Congregated Settings: Direct Provision Centres, available at: https://bit.ly/2XtTM0v.

[4]  The capacity as of 30th June 2019 is the most up-to-date info for the year 2019 at the time this report is published, Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality, David Stanton, Reply to Parliamentary Question No 361, 11 July 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/3bwKJjK.

[5] The occupancy as of 13 October 2019 is the most up-to-date info for the year 2019 at the time this report is published, Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality, David Stanton, Reply to Parliamentary Question No 151, 17 October 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/34Y0yO7.

[6] Ombudsman, ‘The Ombudsman & Direct Provision: Update for 2019’.

[7]  Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality, David Stanton, Reply to Parliamentary Question No 151, 17 October 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/34Y0yO7.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality, David Stanton, Reply to Parliamentary Question No 274, 12 November 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/2Y6HEmI.

[10]  Ibid.

[11] Ibid.

[12]  Houses of the Oireachtas and Joint Committee on Justice and Equality, Report on Direct Provision and the International Protection Application Process, December 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/3cRtb29.

[13]  Ibid.

[14]  Department of Justice and Equality, Spending Review on Direct Provision, 15 August 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/3eVBtrx.

[15]  Minister for Justice and Equality, Reply to Parliamentary Question No 77, 11 December 2012, available at: https://bit.ly/3bHpFai.

[16]  Irish Refugee Council, ‘Irish Refugee Council calls for Government to urgently address issue of people seeking asylum being made homeless’, 20 September 2018, available at: https://bit.ly/2O37Dac

[17] Irish Times, ‘Hotels in the east being used as temporary direct provision centres’, 19 November 2018, available at: https://bit.ly/2S4Pvyv

[18]  Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality, David Stanton, Reply to Parliamentary Question No 271, 10 December 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/2xWmm0f.

[19]  Ombudsman, ‘The Ombudsman & Direct Provision: Update for 2019’, April 2019.

[20]  Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality, David Stanton, Reply to Parliamentary Question No 271, 10 December 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/2xWmm0f.

[21] Ibid.

[22] Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality, David Stanton, Reply to Parliamentary Questions Nos 802 and 803, 23 July 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/2Y9x6TQ.

[23] INIS, ‘Ministers Flanagan and Stanton welcome Syrian refugee families to Ireland’, 27 December 2018, available at: https://bit.ly/2RLydaq

 

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • ANNEX – Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation