Ministers Flanagan and Stanton announce significant increase in Direct Provision accommodation as part of emergency response to COVID-19 pandemic



31 March 2020


The Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan, T.D., and his colleague, the Minister of State with responsibility for Immigration, Integration and Equality, David Stanton, T.D. have announced that more than 650 new beds have been procured to support international protection applicants during the COVID-19 crisis.


Making the announcement today, Minister Flanagan said:


Intensive work has been underway in my Department since the emergence of the COVID-19 crisis to ensure that to the best of our ability, we protect the health and welfare of asylum seekers and refugees availing of direct provision services. Our officials have now secured over 650 additional beds which will provide valuable additional accommodation to support the measures required for vulnerable residents; the provision of offsite accommodation for self-isolation; and will help with social distancing measures by reducing overall numbers in some existing centres. This is a critical part of our overall strategy to protect our residents.  At all times, we are guided by the HSE and the National Public Health Emergency Team and we will continue to do everything possible to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all applicants.”   


The new accommodation will, in the main, be located in hotels in Dublin, Galway and Cork.  These facilities will supplement new mainstream centres which have opened recently in Tullamore, Rosslare Harbour and Caherciveen following tendering processes. Since the start of the year, over 1,350 beds have been procured enabling older centres to close and to move residents from emergency accommodation locations to dedicated centres, where cross agency services to residents can more effectively be provided. 


Speaking about the Department’s ongoing communications with Centres and applicants, and challenges faced by residents, Minister Stanton said:


We know people are anxious. This is a very worrying time for everyone and people who are in the State seeking international protection are no different. This is why the Department wrote to all residents, centre managers and staff members over the weekend to reassure them that their welfare is of paramount importance to us. They were also informed that steps are being taken to protect the most vulnerable. I am pleased that the negotiations, opened in recent weeks, have reached a successful conclusion and that we are now able to provide more details.  The implementation of these new measures will be commenced without delay.”


The Ministers thanked the staff working in centres who are providing an essential frontline service away from their own homes and families during this uncertain time. Minister Stanton said:


Like all essential frontline workers, our centre managers and their staff are performing a vital service to the State, which we are very grateful for. I want to commend their dedication and their commitment to protecting the welfare and safety of our residents.” 


Further measures to assist centre mangers and residents are at an advanced stage and these will be announced in the coming days.