PQ: Direct Provision System (Documentation of Identification)

Thu, January 28, 2016

186. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if she is aware that asylum seekers living in Direct Provision in Richmond Court in County Longford, are unable to open bank accounts, because they are asked to provide utility bills, that they live in a building that is poorly heated with no recreational rooms, that they are often unable to receive letters or items from post offices, because they have no identification; and if she will make a statement on the matter.

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): The Reception & Integration Agency (RIA) of my Department is responsible for the provision of accommodation and related services for asylum seekers who avail of those services while their protection application is being processed. On 17/01/2016, there were 4,650 persons accommodated by RIA in accommodation centres located in 17 counties throughout the State.

The contract for the provision of accommodation at Richmond Court (and indeed at all other centres) requires that the contractor will provide an adequate means of heating. I am advised by RIA that it has received no complaints in relation to heating in that centre but if the Deputy has any specific information, RIA will be happy to take it up with the contractor.

The contract also includes a requirement for an internal post delivery/collection system. Any letters or items addressed to an individual in the centre are made available for collection by that person in the centre. If ongoing issues arise in relation to the collection of items at a Post Office, there are arrangements in place for resolving these where this is possible. On the question of bank accounts, I’m not in a position to comment on this except to say that all persons who apply for asylum in the State are issued with a Temporary Residence Card by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner which is not an identity card and are also assigned a Public Services Card by the Department of Social Protection.

Richmond Court has two recreational rooms available for residents. In these rooms the management provides a fussball table, Sky TV with movies and sports channels, board games and books. Each bedroom has its own TV with over one hundred channels. There is a badminton court outside which is popular with residents. There is wifi provided in all public areas and the management plans to provide a small gym at the centre in the near future.