New accommodation standards proposed for people in direct provision

Recommendations include consideration of gender identity when assigning bedrooms

A working group on standards in direct provision, chaired by Judge Bryan McMahon, recommended the setting up of a standards advisory group. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

A working group on standards in direct provision, chaired by Judge Bryan McMahon, recommended the setting up of a standards advisory group. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

Consideration of the sexual orientation and gender identity of residents when assigning bedrooms are among the standards proposed for those living in direct provision.

The Department of Justice and Equality on Thursday announced a consultation process on draft national standards of accommodation for people in direct provision.

The draft standards also recommend that bunk beds should not be provided for residents over the age of 15; there should be separate family bedrooms, including a separate room for parents; and there should be bathrooms designated for family use that are not shared with non-family members. There should also be access to cooking and food storage facilities and high-quality wifi. There should also be a minimum space of 4.65sq m for each resident per bedroom, it says.

A working group on standards in direct provision, chaired by Judge Bryan McMahon, recommended the setting up of a standards advisory group. The draft standards were developed by this group, made up of interdepartmental staff, members of NGOs and representative groups.

Religious practice

It also recommended that there should also be appropriate and adequate space for religious practice and worship. Service providers should facilitate residents to exercise their right to vote, in accordance with their wishes, according to the draft report. Other recommendations include Garda vetting of staff, management and volunteers working at centres.

There are currently over 5,000 people living in direct provision. Adults in the system receive a weekly allowance of €21 and children receive the same rate.

The Department has asked those who specialise in the development of quality standards to review the standards and submit comments through the online feedback form.

It plans to run consultation meetings with residents of direct provision centres, service providers, organisations and people working with residents.

Services

Once finalised, these standards will govern services provided by contractors to those in the protection process.

The UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, welcomed the publication of new standards “as an opportunity to significantly enhance the accommodation system for asylum-seekers in Ireland”. It will “raise standards and ensure consistency in the provision of services to people living in direct provision centres”, said Enda O’Neill, head of office with UNHCR Ireland. He called on the Government to create an inspectorate for the centres as recommended by the McMahon report.