321. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Justice and Equality to change the practice in direct provision which precludes asylum seekers from accessing kitchen facilities and cooking their own food. [6667/16]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): The Deputy is no doubt referencing the report of the Working Group to Government in Improvements to the Protection Process, including Direct Provision and Supports to Asylum Seekers, otherwise known as the McMahon Report. That Report documented some 173 recommendations, 100 of which have been addressed to some extent. Access to cooking facilities is referred to in one of the recommendations - 4.75.
The Terms of Reference of the Working Group indicated a two-way approach towards improving the life of persons within the asylum process by improving the application process and thereby reducing the length of time applicants spend in RIA accommodation and improving the quality of life of those in accommodation through improvements of services within the accommodation system itself but also the supports available through other agencies and bodies. The Terms of Reference also required that the overall costs arising from implementation of the McMahon Report would reduce or be cost neutral.
Major improvements in the length of time applicants spend in Reception and Integration Agency accommodation are anticipated following the implementation of the International Protection Act 2015. Also, the efforts made to address the situation of those who have been in the system for more than five years, another key recommendation in the report, is already impacting positively on the numbers of persons in accommodation centres. The Citizens Information Board, supported by a range of other State agencies, is currently providing information sessions within Reception and Integration Agency centres to former asylum seekers who have permission to stay in the State.
While the Reception and Integration Agency continues to explore ways in which accommodation services can be improved, a number of the more relevant recommendations in this area would require construction works which will require time and resources to implement. The McMahon Report (page 251) estimated that funding of €65 million would be required to implement the improvements during the period 2015-2019.