Deputy John Lyons asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will review the decision of the Refugee Integration Agency to send a person (details supplied) to County Sligo in circumstances in which they have been accepted to a third level course in a Dublin college and they have no connections in County Sligo; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): The Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) of my Department is charged with responsibility for the accommodation of asylum seekers while their applications for protection are being processed. Currently, there are almost 5,100 persons accommodated in 37 RIA centres located throughout the State.
The person referred to in the question made an application for asylum on 11 March, 2009, was deemed an unaccompanied minor by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner (ORAC) and referred to the HSE which has responsibility for the care of unaccompanied minors under the Child Care Act, 1991.
Where an unaccompanied asylum seeker minor in the care of the HSE reaches 18 years of age, he or she may be referred by the HSE to the Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) for transfer to adult accommodation and service provision. In circumstances where the HSE deem such a person to be particularly vulnerable, the period in HSE care can be extended beyond 18 years of age at the HSE’s discretion, as happened in this case.
In this case, the person concerned was placed in a foster home accommodation by the HSE and remained there until 20 January, 2012 when she was transferred to RIA for adult accommodation within the Direct Provision system, at which point she was 20 years of age. Discussions took place with the HSE Separated Children’s Team prior to her arrival in RIA accommodation. RIA was informed that she was undertaking a pre-nursing course which would be completed in May 2012. It was agreed to offer this person accommodation in Viking Lodge in Dublin, a RIA accommodation centre, until June 2012. The person concerned was informed by letter dated 9 December, 2011 from RIA that she would be placed in Viking Lodge until June, 2012, after which she would be transferred to one of the designated “aged-out-minor” centres outside of Dublin. This would be in keeping with RIA’s policy to disperse such persons to centres outside Dublin, generally family centres which have established links to HSE services and NGO supports.
Further discussions took place with the HSE Separated Children’s Team in December, 2011 and in January, March and April of 2012 as to which RIA family centre would best suit this person following the completion of her pre-nursing course. In May, 2012 representations were made on her behalf by the Dun Laoghaire Refugee Project (DRP) and Crosscare to the effect that she should not be transferred from Dublin. RIA and the HSE held to the view that this person did not require a placement in Dublin. On 30 May, 2012, the person was informed that she would be transferring to Globe House, Sligo on 5 July, 2012.
Further representations were then received from the Irish Refugee Council (IRC) which included a letter from DRP stating that she had received a place in a two year Social Care course in Inchicore College which the DRP were funding. The IRC also forwarded medical information regarding this person which was sent to the independent medical referee. His subsequent advice was that this person can be safely transferred to another location with the proviso that her medical records follow her.
For unconnected reasons, the transfer to Sligo has had to be postponed to the beginning of August. RIA has been informed that, in the meantime, further representations will be made on this case and these will, of course, be considered further. I am informed by RIA that the enrolment of this person in a two year course in Dublin to begin in September, when she was aware of her pending transfer to outside Dublin, will not be a factor in determining the final outcome in this case. As things stand, and pending consideration of any further representations in this case, RIA intends to proceed with this transfer in August.