115. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of young persons resident in direct provision aged 15, 16, 17, 18 and 19 years of age, respectively in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22144/19]


Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality (Deputy David Stanton): The statistical data the Deputy requires is detailed in the following table.  These figures relate to 17 May 2019.

Age No. of RIA Applicants
19 104
18 58
17 52
16 91
15 59

The Deputy will be aware that the Direct Provision system is a whole of Government approach to the provision of supports and other services to persons seeking international protection. These supports and services are delivered directly to persons in the protection process in the same manner as to other residents in Ireland by the relevant Government Department or Agency. For example education services are delivered through the Department of Education and Skills and health services are delivered by the Health Service Executive.
My Department, through the Reception & Integration Agency (RIA), is responsible for the provision of accommodation and related services to protection applicants while they await a decision on their claim for international protection.
The Department of Justice and Equality working together with other Departments and agencies have already introduced far-reaching and important reforms to the overall system and this process will continue as we strive to make further improvements in the future.  One of the most significant improvements being the introduction of independent living. 
Independent living allows applicants to obtain food, toiletries and other products in a specially-constructed food hall in the centre.  Applicants then cook the food at either communal or individual cooking stations. 
Independent living provides applicants with a significant degree of autonomy and prepares them for life after the protection process.  As of early April 2019, over 2,200 applicants across eight centres can avail of the independent living model.   In addition, almost 1,400 other applicants have access to other self-catering facilities with food provided by the contractor or the applicant themselves.  The Department of Justice and Equality anticipates that all of the centres under contract to it will have moved to the independent living model by mid-2020.
In addition, there have been significant improvements to recreation opportunities, such as the provision of outdoor sports pitches, including ‘all-weather’ facilities, teenagers rooms and family living rooms in centres to provide social areas for particular age groups.  Friends of the Centre groups have also been established in each centre.  This initiative aims to bring residents, community and voluntary groups together with a view to increasing integration opportunities and providing for the development of greater community linkages with the residents and the centre.
My officials continue to examine best international practice and to engage with relevant statutory and civil society stakeholders to explore options with regard to providing accommodation and supports for persons seeking international protection.