Published on 9 March 2022
Newly-appointed Ombudsman Ger Deering has cautiously welcomed the progress being made by government in reforming the direct provision system. While there was a decline in the numbers of people in emergency accommodation, the Ombudsman said that a lot remained to be done to get people out of what is unsuitable accommodation.
The Ombudsman was speaking today [9 March 2022] at the publication of his annual Commentary on complaints his Office receives about direct provision services - ‘The Ombudsman and Direct Provision: Update for 2021’. His Office saw a 62% increase in complaints about direct provision services in 2021, largely as a result of the return of his Office’s ‘outreach’ visits to direct provision centres at the end of last year. The visits had previously been suspended due to COVID-related restrictions.
The Ombudsman received 99 complaints about direct provision services in 2021 compared with 61 in 2020. The main issues complained about were refusal of requests for transfers to other centres, accommodation issues, and access to medical and GP cards.
The Ombudsman’s outreach team carried out visits to 17 accommodation centres at the end of 2021 taking 52 complaints during the visits. Many of the complaints were resolved ‘on the spot’ or shortly after the visits.
The Ombudsman said that his Office will continue to engage with the relevant stakeholders in the sector, including the International Protection Accommodation Service, on implementation of the commitments in the Government’s White Paper to end Direct Provision.
The Ombudsman’s Commentary, ‘The Ombudsman and Direct Provision: Update for 2021’, which includes further details of complaints made to the Office and selected case studies, is available on the Ombudsman’s website www.ombudsman.ie.
Note for Editors:
Ger Deering was appointed Ombudsman in January 2022. He succeeds Peter Tyndall as Ombudsman. The Office of the Ombudsman considers complaints from the public about services delivered by public bodies such as government departments, the HSE, local authorities and providers of direct provision services.