The Minister said: "In Ireland, Christmas is a traditionally a time when we gather with our families and loved ones.  Applicants for international protection who avail of our accommodation centres have often lost family in tragic circumstances in their native countries, or left loved ones behind.  
 
Today the Montague Accommodation Centre is hosting a Christmas party and I am delighted to take this opportunity to again visit the Centre and meet the residents and the management and staff.  I want to thank also the local community here in Emo and the Portlaoise area for the continuing support they give to the Montague Centre, through the Friends of the Centre structure, the local sports clubs and all the other groups and individuals who go out of their way to make the residents feel welcome."
 
Minister Flanagan reflected on the continuing improvements being made to accommodation centres around the country in line with the recommendations of the McMahon report, including in relation to self-catering and communal catering.  The recommendation for self or communal catering is fully implemented in Mosney, Ballyhaunis, St Patrick’s in Monaghan and Clonakilty in Cork.  That system is being extended across all accommodation under contract to RIA, starting with Athlone in early January and the expansion of the facility in Kinsale Road, Cork.  The intention is that by the end of 2018 all accommodation centres will have either self or communal catering facilities.
 
The Minister also noted that the public tender for the procurement of further Emergency Reception and Orientation Centres for people arriving in Ireland under the Irish Refugee Protection Programme is about to be published and that a similar tender for the procurement of accommodation for those seeking protection will issue in 2018.
 
The Minister wished everyone at the accommodation centre, staff and residents alike, and indeed all staff and residents in all accommodation centres in Ireland a peaceful Christmas and a happy new year.
 
ENDS
 
Notes for Editors: