274. Deputy Matt Carthy asked the Minister for Justice if the necessary steps have been made to ensure that EU Directive 2014/92 has been respected by the end of the first quarter of 2021 as outlined in the White Paper on Direct Provision; if asylum seekers continue to face difficulties opening bank accounts; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18032/21]


Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): I have established a Programme Board in my Department to oversee the implementation of the relevant recommendations of the Advisory Group on the Provision of Support including Accommodation to Persons in the International Protection Process, including the recommendation related to access to basic bank accounts for International Protection applicants. The Programme Board is supported by an Implementation Working Group, comprising senior officials from the relevant areas of my department, to support progress in implementing recommendations, and reports into the Board.
In relation to recommendation 5.6 of the Advisory Group - that the State take the necessary steps to ensure that EU Directive 2014/92 is respected and that all banks operating in the State respect the rights of applicants for international protection to open and hold banks accounts - my officials have been engaging with the relevant stakeholders, including the Banking and Payments Federation of Ireland (BPFI), with a view to supporting a resolution to any issues and enabling a consistent approach in implementing the Directive as appropriate. I also met with the BPFI recently in this regard concerning its role and my officials will engage with stakeholders further to establish the actions that can be advanced by them to achieve a more consistent approach by all banks in line with the terms of the EU Directive and the EU (Payment Accounts) Regulations 2016.