500. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of applicants granted status to remain here who continue to be kept in direct provision centres; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19244/19]


Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality (Deputy David Stanton): The Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) of Department of Justice and Equality is responsible for the offer of accommodation and supports to persons seeking international protection in Ireland. Applicants are free to accept these services or are free to source their own accommodation with family or friends. While previously this was done on an administrative basis, this is now carried out under the EU (recast) Reception Conditions Directive, which was transposed into Irish law in June 2018 by way of SI 230 of 2018.
As of 28th April 2019 there were 6,645 persons who have sought and been granted accommodation provided by RIA, including 686 people with a protection status or a permission to remain in the State.
The numbers applying for international protection in Ireland have increased substantially over the last two years, and as a consequence there is significant pressure on the available accommodation as people claiming protection seek to be housed by RIA. RIA has had to put in place a number of emergency arrangements so that new arrivals are accommodated until a space is available in a direct provision facility.
Residents who have been granted status or a permission to remain have the same access to housing supports and services as Irish and EEA nationals. Considerable work is being undertaken to support these residents to move out of accommodation centres and into secure permanent accommodation. RIA have a specific team who work on this. Their work is enhanced through the funded transitional support work provided by Depaul Ireland and the Peter McVerry Trust. A number of NGOs has also been awarded monies under the EU Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF). These include the PATHS project and South Dublin County Partnership.
Additionally, RIA is liaising with officials in the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, and the City and County Managers Association collectively to support residents with permission to remain to access housing options.