The Reception Conditions Regulations provide that the Minister must, within 15 working days from the date on which a person indicates their intention to seek asylum, in writing (in a language they understand) inform them of the material reception conditions to which they are entitled under the Regulations and the contact details of relevant organisations who may offer support.
In the experience of the Irish Refugee Council, newly arriving protection applicants are not being provided with information regarding material reception conditions or the contact details of organisations which can offer support for accessing those entitlements.
With the current crisis in accommodation for protection applicants, new short-term arrangements have been established as the usual initial reception centre at Balseskin has been full (see Types of Accommodation). One of the many problems which this has created is the absence of information and a clear line of communication regarding the international protection process and entitlements around reception conditions. The Irish Refugee Council and other organisations like Movement of Asylum Seekers Ireland and Jesuit Refugee Service Ireland conducted outreach to emergency centres in 2019 in an effort to provide applicants with key information. In the experience of the Irish Refugee Council, many applicants are unaware of the process for seeking international protection, their entitlements, their obligations, their rights etc. which is creating additional stresses for people in this situation.
Information is provided by the IPAS on rights and obligations in reception and accommodation through the House Rules and Procedures, which are available in each centre (but which are not “House Rules” as defined in the Regulations). These rules are available in 10 different languages, aside from English, on the RIA’s website (now IPAS which is pending a website update). The House Rules and Procedures document was updated in January 2019, in accordance with Regulation 25 of the European Communities (Reception Conditions) Regulations 2018.
According to the IPAS annual report 2017, RIA has established information clinics on a bi-annual basis (at least) to provide information on a one-to-one basis and also review the operation of the Direct Provision centre.
It is regrettable that no annual report for 2018, 2019 or 2020 has been published. Indeed, no monthly reports have been published since November 2018, which means that information is in very short supply at a time when the reception process in Ireland is under serious strain. This makes it exceptionally difficult for external actors to maintain adequate oversight of the system.
At the outset of the Covid-19 pandemic, public health information was distributed to residents through the circulation of notices in multiple languages. However, as previously noted, when steps were taken to move people out of Direct Provision at the height of the pandemic so as to permit residents additional space to social distance, this was largely achieved without consulting residents, while notice provided was extremely short and residents were not informed as to whether the move would be temporary or permanent in nature.
 Regulation 3 Reception Conditions Regulations 2018.