48. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of complaints made to the Ombudsman by those in direct provision regarding the actions of accommodation centres; if the Ombudsman or his Department keeps records of complaints made to the accommodation centres; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4377/19]
Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality (Deputy David Stanton): Since April 2017, residents in direct prison accommodation centres can make complaints to the Ombudsman and the Ombudsman for Children in relation to the services and facilities provided in their accommodation centre.
A record of all complaints received from the Ombudsman is kept by the Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) of my Department. In 2017, the Ombudsman referred 31 complaints from residents of direct provision accommodation centres to RIA. In 2018 the Ombudsman referred 66 complaints to RIA. Officials from RIA meet quarterly with the Office of the Ombudsman to ensure there is a close relationship between both offices to deal effectively, efficiently and sensitively with the complaints raised by residents.
It should be noted that, in some cases, the Ombudsman may contact the accommodation centre directly to deal with a complaint. In such cases RIA may not have received a copy of the complaint from the Ombudsman.
Complaints received by the Ombudsman from direct provision residents, which relate to the services provided by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, HSE or Legal Aid Board are directed to those Departments and agencies separately by the Ombudsman. The Office of the Ombudsman may be able to provide the Deputy with further information in relation to the total number of complaints made by residents in State provided accommodation.
The Department of Justice and Equality will continue to engage positively and constructively with the Ombudsman to resolve any issues as they arise.