Hiqa reports highlight deficiencies in vetting and child safeguarding in accommodation centres

Health authority carried out inspections at International Protection Accommodation Services centres across the country

Hiqa issued urgent “compliance plans” to the operators of four centres following the revelations

Operators of several International Protection Accommodation Services (IPAS) centres inspected by the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) in recent months were unable to provide evidence of Garda vetting for some staff members, the authority has found.

Hiqa reported on Wednesday there were deficiencies in the vetting of some staff at Dublin Central Inn on Talbot Street, Atlantic Lodge in Kenmare, Co Kerry and the King Thomond Hotel in Lisdoonvarna, Co Clare. While all permanent staff at the Grand Hotel in Wicklow town were adequately Garda vetted, Hiqa raised concerns about the vetting of contract staff at the centre.

Hiqa issued urgent “compliance plans” to the operators of the four centres following the revelations, with operators taking adequate measures in most cases to remedy the vetting deficiencies.

Hiqa published the six reports on Wednesday, following inspections it carried out at international protection centres across the country. Of the six centres inspected, two of them – the Eglinton Centre in Salthill, Co Galway, and Birchwood House in Waterford city – were found to be compliant or partially compliant with all standards.


The inspection report at the Grand Hotel noted that, in addition to 104 international protection applicants accommodated at the hotel, 175 men were living in emergency accommodation in two large dormitory rooms in the same building. The conditions for those in emergency accommodation at The Grand Hotel did not fall under the remit of Hiqa’s inspection, the authority noted.

Hiqa said that present conditions at the Grand Hotel posed several risks to residents.

“For example, an unsupervised child had managed to gain access to the dormitory where emergency accommodation was being provided; there were incidents of aggression between people living in the centre and incidents where this aggression had been directed at staff members; and there were inherent risks related to residents in terms of their identified vulnerabilities and complex mental health needs,” the report noted.

An Garda Síochána were alerted to a number of instances at the centre since January, the report noted.

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Hiqa said that at the King Thomond Hotel, some child safeguarding concerns were not identified in a timely manner, due to the lack of a policy on supervision and child-minding arrangements between parents at the centre.

“As a result, the service provider was unaware of a child safeguarding concern which was ongoing for a number weeks before the inspection,” the report noted. “The management team responded appropriately when they became aware of the concern but there were no formal arrangements to monitor children while their parents were absent from the centre.”

Fiachra Gallagher

Fiachra Gallagher

Fiachra Gallagher is an Irish Times journalist