210. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if his attention has been drawn to the practice of direct provision centres encouraging residents to volunteer to undertake duties which could be paid employment jobs; if such practices are widespread; if his Department is consulted by providers before such volunteering is organised; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14940/19]


Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality (Deputy David Stanton): My Department is responsible for the provision of accommodation and ancillary services to persons entering the state and seeking international protection. A key responsibility is providing opportunities to residents to meet their recreational, social and integration needs during their stay in the accommodation centres.
A recommendation of the McMahon Report is the Friends of the Centre Groups which are in each centre and work to provide opportunities for residents to integrate and participate in local community activities. Volunteerism plays a key role in allowing residents to meet and integrate in local community activities such as Tidy Towns.
However, volunteerism should not be misused to substitute for paid employment and my Department will not permit residents in our care to be exploited in this manner. 
If the Deputy is aware of instances where this is happening, I would be obliged if she could forward on the relevant details.