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Minister Fitzgerald commitment to no forced evictions from Towers Direct Provision Centre welcomed – Ó Broin

15 November, 2016 - by Eoin Ó Broin TD


Sinn Féin Dublin Mid-West TD Eoin Ó Broin has welcomed the commitment from Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald not to evict former asylum seekers who have secured their status from Clondalkin Towers Direct Provision Centre.

In a Parliamentary Question reply this month, Minister Fitzgerald said that “The Reception & Integration Agency (RIA) has never threatened to evict any persons from its accommodation centres who have been granted leave to remain or any other form of status’ and that ‘RIA have always continued to provide such persons with continued accommodation until they secure their own private accommodation. RIA are particularly mindful of the reality of the housing situation in the State and the pressures on the Community Welfare Service in respect of Rent Supplement or the City and County Councils in respect of Housing Assistance Payments and Housing Lists.”

Deputy Ó Broin said:

“There are over 500 former asylum seekers who have been granted residency status but remain trapped in Direct Provision. Up to 40 of these people live in Clondalkin Towers.

“High rents and shortage of rental properties is making is almost impossible for these families to secure permanent accommodation. This is made worse by the Department of Social Protection not to pay full rate social welfare while people remain in Direct Provision and to continue to pay just €19.50 per week. 

“Recent speculation that the Reception and Integration Agency and the Department of Justice were threatening to evict these people from Direct Provision Centres caused real anxiety for many.

“I welcome the commitment given by the Minister for Justice that no family will be evicted and that RIA will work with families to secure appropriate long term housing.

“However, it is clear the approach taken by both RIA and Local Authorities is not working. That is why so many remain trapped in Direct Provision. 

“I have written to Minister for Housing Simon Coveney and Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald urging them to adopt a cross departmental approach to provide additional supports to these families to assist them in making the transition from Direct Provision into secure housing in the Community.” 

Note: Please see the PQ in question below:

QUESTION NO: 42

DÁIL QUESTION addressed to the Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald)
by Deputy Eoin Ó Broin
for WRITTEN on Thursday, 3rd November, 2016.

* To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the number of adults and children who remain in direct provision after receiving their stamp four leave to remain; if her attention has been drawn to the fact that the Reception and Integration Agency is now threatening these persons with eviction with the potential of them becoming homeless; if her attention has further been drawn to the very real difficulties these persons are having in accessing private rented accommodation; the supports she plans to put in place to assist these persons in making the transition from direct provision; and if she has discussed this matter with the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government in order to coordinate the efforts of both departments to prevent these persons from becoming homeless..

- Eoin Ó Broin

REPLY.
Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality (David Stanton)

The Reception & Integration Agency (RIA) has never threatened to evict any persons from its accommodation centres who have been granted leave to remain or any other form of status.

In terms of the number of persons in RIA accommodation who have been granted some form of status, there are in the region of 500 such persons among the 4,200 residents across the system. This number fluctuates based on the numbers of status grants and the movement of such persons into private accommodation over time. RIA, its centre managers, the Community Welfare Service (including Rent Supplement), Citizens Information and those City and County Councils operating the Housing Assistance Payments link with such persons in accessing the appropriate supports and services, including in respect of sourcing and securing private accommodation.

Following on from the McMahon Working Group Report, the Department of Justice & Equality developed a Guide to Independent Living for persons with status to provide practical assistance for them. The Guide is available in all centres and has been published on the RIA website (www.ria.gov.ie) in a number of different languages. This was published in parallel with information sessions coordinated by the Citizens Information Bureau in accommodation centres which gave an opportunity for such persons to seek assistance and clarification on the services provided.

Once some form of status is granted, residents cease to be ordinarily entitled to the accommodation supports provided through the Reception & Integration Agency. Notwithstanding this fact, RIA have always continued to provide such persons with continued accommodation until they secure their own private accommodation. RIA are particularly mindful of the reality of the housing situation in the State and the pressures on the Community Welfare Service in respect of Rent Supplement or the City and County Councils in respect of Housing Assistance Payments and Housing Lists. That said, the State has been criticised for the length of time persons spend in Direct Provision and accordingly, we must all work together to transition persons granted status out of the system as quickly as possible.

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