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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 355-372
 Header Item State Examinations
 Header Item Citizenship Applications
 Header Item Third Level Education
 Header Item Third Level Admissions
 Header Item Health Insurance
 Header Item Third Level Institutions
 Header Item Student Grant Scheme
 Header Item Student Accommodation
 Header Item Third Level Institutions
 Header Item Third Level Education
 Header Item Third Level Admissions
 Header Item Third Level Education
 Header Item Third Level Admissions
 Header Item Refugee Resettlement Programme
 Header Item Maternity Leave
 Header Item Direct Provision System

Tuesday, 13 October 2020

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 999 No. 2
Unrevised

First Page Previous Page Page of 100 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 355-372

  Question No. 355 answered with Question No. 352.

State Examinations

 356. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the number of the 6,500 students who were erroneously upgraded in the 2020 leaving certificate results who were given a place on a course through the CAO process (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30015/20]

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris The CAO is a company established by Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) to process applications for undergraduate, and some postgraduate, courses on their behalf. Decisions on admissions are made by the HEIs who then instruct the CAO to make offers to successful candidates. Therefore application and offer data is held by the CAO and the HEI in question, not by my Department and the data requested by the Deputy cannot be provided.

Citizenship Applications

 357. Deputy Mark Ward Information on Mark Ward Zoom on Mark Ward asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the steps to be taken by persons who are entering university while waiting on results from citizenship applications; and the documents that need to be provided to universities in terms of deciding fees and SUSI applications by persons awaiting citizenship applications. [30044/20]

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris The principal support provided by the Department in financial terms is the Student Grant Scheme. Under the terms of the Student Grant Scheme, grant assistance is awarded to students attending an approved course in an approved institution who meet the prescribed conditions of funding including those which relate to nationality, residency, previous academic attainment and means.

  The nationality requirements for the Student Grant Scheme are set out in Section 14 of the Student Support Act 2011 and Regulation 5 of the Student Support Regulations 2020. To qualify for a student grant, it is the candidate's nationality or his/her immigration status in the State that determines whether or not he/she meets the nationality requirement outlined in the Act and Regulations.

  The Department of Justice and Equality adjudicates on a person's entitlement to remain in the State and on the stamp that is awarded where permission to remain is sanctioned. I have been advised by my colleague Helen McEntee TD Minister of Justice, that the restrictions attendant to the current COVID-19 pandemic have regrettably resulted in significant challenges to the delivery of normal services and the previously advised 6 months processing timeline for standard applications has increased to just under one calendar year.

  Article 32 of the Student Grant Scheme 2020 provides for a review of eligibility for the award of a grant in the event of a change of circumstances in the academic year, including a change in relation to a student's nationality or immigration status. Where a student acquires Irish citizenship by naturalisation, or is granted one of the permission to remain criterion provided for in the Act or Regulations during the course of their studies, he/she may apply to SUSI to have his/her application re-assessed.

  Where an individual applicant has had an appeal turned down in writing by SUSI and remains of the view that the scheme has not been interpreted correctly in his/her case, an appeal form outlining the position may be submitted by the applicant to the independent Student Grants Appeals Board.

  SUSI’s online application process for student grant applications for the 2020/21 academic year opened on 23rd April, 2020. The closing date for receipt of late applications by SUSI is 5th November, 2020.

The documentation required in support of the nationality requirements for student grant purposes will vary according to individual circumstances. Should a student wish to discuss his/her student grant eligibility or obtain information in relation to the supporting documentation requirements, the telephone number for SUSI’s Helpdesk is 0761 087 874. Further information regarding the nationality requirements of the Student Grant Scheme is also available from SUSI's website: https://susi.ie/eligibility__trashed/nationality-criteria/.

  In relation to fees, all applicants for the Free Fees Initiative must meet the prescribed criteria of the scheme including residency and nationality. It is a matter for the higher education institution to which a student is attending to determine eligibility and students should consult with the institution attending to confirm the documentation required to support their application. The documentation required in support of the nationality requirements will vary according to individual circumstances. Eligibility under this scheme is determined at date of entry to the approved undergraduate course, however where a student acquires Irish; EU; EEA; Swiss Confederation; or United Kingdom citizenship during their course of study, such students may be assessed for free fees during their course of study where the student met all criteria of this scheme, apart from nationality, at date entry to their course study.

  Where students do not qualify for free fees funding they must pay the appropriate fee, either EU or Non-EU, as determined by each higher education institution. Higher education institutions are autonomous bodies and therefore the criteria governing the level of fee payable by students (EU or non-EU) is a matter for the relevant institution to determine in line with its own criteria.

  Apart from the Student Grant Scheme and Free Fees Initiative, the Deputy will be aware of the recently announced €168m funding package for the return to education. This package includes a €10m access support package for higher education students. I have approved the allocation of €8.1m of this funding to top up the Student Assistance Fund (SAF). The SAF assists students in a sensitive and compassionate manner, who might otherwise be unable to continue their third level studies due to their financial circumstances. Institutions have the autonomy to maximise the flexibility in the Student Assistance Fund to enable HEIs to support students during the COVID-19 situation. Details of this fund are available from the Access Office in the third level institution attended.

Also tax relief at the standard rate of tax may be claimed in respect of tuition fees paid for approved courses at approved colleges of higher education including approved undergraduate and postgraduate courses in EU Member States and in non-EU countries. Further information on this tax relief is available from a student's local Tax office or from the Revenue Commissioners website www.revenue.ie.

Third Level Education

 358. Deputy Thomas Pringle Information on Thomas Pringle Zoom on Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the reason a person (details supplied) cannot continue their course in further education online; the plans to introduce online classes for education and training board-run courses in a college and other further education facilities in the short term due to the level-3 regulations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30181/20]

Minister of State at the Department of Education and Skills (Deputy Niall Collins): Information on Niall Collins Zoom on Niall Collins Education and Training Boards (ETBs) are complying with the guidance provided in the Government’s Resilience and Recovery 2020-2021: Plan for living with Covid 19, as well as Implementation Guidelines for Public Health Measures in ETB Further Education & Training Institutions (FET).  In respect of Further Education and Training (FET), the guidelines advise that in the event of Level 3 restrictions, further education and adult education are to escalate all appropriate protective measures and limit congregation as far as possible.

  The ETB in question will be planning and delivering its services in accordance with these national guidelines to protect learners and staff.

Third Level Admissions

 359. Deputy Pádraig O'Sullivan Information on Pádraig O'Sullivan Zoom on Pádraig O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the status of actions taken to provide additional college places to students who have qualified for a different course following a review on foot of coding errors identified in the calculated grades process; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30238/20]

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris Following the conclusion of the review of the code used to generate Calculated Grades, improved Calculated Grades results were transmitted to the CAO on Saturday 3rd October. The CAO subsequently identified 485 students who were entitled to an higher preference CAO offer as a result of their improved grades. As of CAO Round 4, which was issued on Thursday 8th October, all of these students have received an offer to take up a place in their new course in the current academic year.

Health Insurance

 360. Deputy Rose Conway-Walsh Information on Rose Conway-Walsh Zoom on Rose Conway-Walsh asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris his views on the substantial increase in health insurance costs resulting from the Health Insurance Authority decision to categorise non-EEA students studying here on courses of more than one academic year as ordinarily resident for the purposes of the health insurance Acts; the impact this will have on the ability of third-level institutions to attract international students; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29855/20]

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris I am aware of the recent decision of the Court of Appeal in relation to health insurance provision for international students.

The possession of adequate health insurance is a requirement of our immigration services, in order to protect the exchequer from potentially substantial additional costs for the public health system in managing the health needs of a large number of people from outside the EU.

My Department, in its role as Chair of the High Level Group on International Education, has engaged extensively with the sector, and with other relevant Government Departments and Agencies in recent years, to examine possible solutions to this issue once it emerged, whilst remaining cognisant that the matter has been the subject of legal proceedings before the Irish courts.

My Department understands that the higher education representative bodies are in discussions with a number of registered insurance providers to source policy quotes that are affordable, that meet the needs of international students and that comply with the Health Insurance Acts, in so far as the Court of Appeal judgement pertains. The future insurance cover costs for non-EU/EEA students will only be known once these discussions have concluded, and my preference would be to arrive at an outcome where the insurance market operates to provide this necessary cover at an acceptable price.

Third Level Institutions

 361. Deputy Catherine Connolly Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the cost to date of all National University of Ireland Galway legal fees in relation to court cases involving a number of staff (details supplied); the estimated final cost of all legal fees in respect of these cases; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29858/20]

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris Universities are autonomous institutions within the meaning of the Universities Act 1997 and the subject matter in relation to these cases is for the National University of Ireland Galway (NUIG) to manage. The legal costs in relation to these cases are a matter for NUIG.

Under the Code of Practice for the Governance of State Bodies, the University is obliged to record relevant legal costs incurred in their financial statements.

Student Grant Scheme

 362. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the reason a Student Universal Support Ireland, SUSI, grant was refused in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29916/20]

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris The central grant awarding authority Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI), a business unit of the City of Dublin ETB, administer the Student Grant Scheme on behalf of my Department.

  My officials have advised me that the awarding authority has been unable to identify the student in question based on the information provided.

  Enquiries regarding the status of an application on behalf of an individual applicant for a student grant may be made directly to SUSI.

  Enquiries may be emailed directly to SUSI at oireachtas@susi.ie. Staff in SUSI are responding to email queries within a matter of days.

Student Accommodation

 363. Deputy Alan Farrell Information on Alan Farrell Zoom on Alan Farrell asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the measures being taken to ensure affordable access to student accommodation for third-level students; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29948/20]

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris The National Student Accommodation Strategy (NSAS) was published in 2017 and is designed to support the delivery of an increased level of supply of purpose built student accommodation (PBSA) by reducing planning barriers for public and private sector developers of student accommodation and seeking to address financing barriers for our higher education institutions. The aim is to reduce the cost to the student by ensuring that there is a sufficient level of accommodation to meet future demand. The target as set out in Rebuilding Ireland and the NSAS is the provision of 7,000 bed spaces by end 2019 and a total of 21,000 additional PBSA beds by 2024. The 2019 target has been surpassed, with 8,346 bed spaces completed by the end of the year.

  Following significant rent increases in two privately run PBSA complexes in 2018, the Department of Education and Skills worked in close co-operation with the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government to pass the Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2019. The Act contains provisions designed to ensure that students residing in student-specific accommodation in Rent Pressure Zones will not see rent increases of more than 4% per annum. Registered students and licensors may also now avail of the dispute resolution facilities provided by the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB).

Third Level Institutions

 364. Deputy Róisín Shortall Information on Róisín Shortall Zoom on Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris if he will respond to correspondence (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30333/20]

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris The principal support provided by the Department in financial terms is the Student Grant Scheme. Under the terms of the Grant Scheme, grant assistance is awarded to students attending an approved course in an approved institution who meet the prescribed conditions of funding, including those relating to nationality, residency, previous academic attainment and means.

The decision on eligibility for a student grant is a matter, in the first instance, for the centralised student grant awarding authority SUSI (Student Universal Support Ireland) to determine. SUSI are currently accepting late applications until 5th November 2020. As this late application closing date is fast approaching, should the student in question wish to make enquiries regarding student grant assistance and/or submit an online student grant application, she is advised to do so as soon as possible. Further information in relation to the student grant is available from SUSI's website www.susi.ie or by contacting the SUSI Support Desk by telephone at 0761 087 874 or emailing support@susi.ie  

  For the 2020/21 academic year, student grant applications will be assessed based on gross income from all sources for the period 1 January 2019 to 31 December 2019.

  However, if a student or party to their application experiences a change in circumstances that is not a temporary change and is likely to continue for the foreseeable future, they can apply to have their application assessed under the change in circumstances provision of the relevant Student Grant Scheme. The income of all parties to the application will be assessed or reassessed on the current year (2020) and they may also be asked to provide evidence of the current year’s (2020) income. SUSI also requires confirmation that the change is not a temporary change and is likely to continue for the foreseeable future. Following such a review, the applicant may fall within the thresholds to become eligible for grant assistance or be entitled to an increased rate of grant or the special rate of grant.

  Apart from the Student Grant Scheme, a funding package for the return to education in the amount of €168m was recently announced. This package includes a €10m access support package for higher education students. An allocation of €8.1m of this funding to top up the Student Assistance Fund (SAF) has been approved. The SAF assists students in a sensitive and compassionate manner, who might otherwise be unable to continue their third level studies due to their financial circumstances. Institutions have the autonomy to maximise the flexibility in the SAF to enable HEIs to support students during the COVID-19 situation. Details of this fund are available from the Access Office in the third level institution attended. This fund is administered on a confidential, discretionary basis.

  The Department has also allocated €15 million of capital funding for a once-off Covid-19 Grant to support disadvantaged students in accessing ICT devices. This grant is being made available to further and higher education institutions. The institutions are using the grant funding to purchase devices to support disadvantaged students who are encountering challenges in accessing devices for online and blended learning. The distribution of the devices will be via appropriate lending schemes, and the associated terms and conditions, will be a matter for each individual further or higher education provider. Students should contact the access office of the institution they attend for further information.

  Information regarding various funding options for higher education courses is also available from the Higher Education Authority (HEA) website https://hea.ie/funding-governance-performance/funding/student-finance/.

Also, tax relief at the standard rate of tax may be claimed in respect of tuition fees paid for approved courses at approved colleges of higher education. Further information on this tax relief is available from the student's local Tax Office or from the Revenue Commissioners website, www.revenue.ie.

  Back to Education Allowance (BTEA) is administered by the Department of Social Protection. Accordingly, any queries regarding the eligibility criteria or status of a BTEA application Further enquiries in respect of the BTEA must be referred to that Department.

  Students in receipt of the Back to Education Allowance (BTEA) are not eligible for maintenance support under the Student Grant Scheme, as this would result in a duplication of income support payments. However, students in receipt of BTEA may be considered for SUSI fee supports up to a maximum of €6,270.

Third Level Education

 365. Deputy Holly Cairns Information on Holly Cairns Zoom on Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris if additional funding will be provided to college and university library services to enable students to access academic textbooks online; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30354/20]

 366. Deputy Holly Cairns Information on Holly Cairns Zoom on Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris if additional funding will be provided to college and university online virtual learning environment management systems which in some cases do not have the capacity to accommodate the amount of students currently using the systems; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30355/20]

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris I propose to take Questions Nos. 365 and 366 together.

The Government has provided additional funding in the amount of €168m to support the return of students to further and higher education. For the Education providers under the remit of my Department, the allocation includes funding towards Immediate ICT costs relating to online provision.

My Department allocates recurrent funding to the Higher Education Authority (HEA) for direct disbursement to HEA designated higher education institutions. The HEA allocates this funding as a block grant to the institutions. The additional funding allocation has been assessed by the HEA and a final breakdown and distribution of funding allocation for the costs incurred is being finalised and correspondence will issue to all eligible providers in the coming weeks. As autonomous bodies, the internal disbursement of the allocated funding, including any expenditure on the items queried by the Deputy, are a matter for the individual institution.

I will continue to work with further and higher education providers, agencies and key stakeholders including student representatives to mitigate the additional pressures faced as a result of Covid-19.

Third Level Admissions

 367. Deputy Holly Cairns Information on Holly Cairns Zoom on Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris if colleges or universities that receive funding from his Department have asked students with disabilities or underlying health conditions to defer their place for a year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30356/20]

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris Higher education institutions (HEIs) are autonomous bodies and as such are entitled to regulate their own academic affairs and administrative processes. Decisions on deferral of college places are a matter for individual institutions, and I have not been made aware of any HEI having a policy of requesting that students with disabilities or underlying health conditions defer their place.

  As education providers, it is the responsibility of each HEI to put in place appropriate supports to ensure that the needs of students of disabilities are met. Each institution has an access and disability service in place to support students with disabilities. Students who feel that they may require supports from their institution should contact the access or disability service who will carry out a needs assessment in collaboration with the student. These supports will continue to be provided, as appropriate, where any online or blended learning takes place.

  The Fund Students with Disabilities (FSD) provides funding to higher and further education institutions to assist them in offering supports and services to eligible students with disabilities so that they can access, fully participate in and successfully complete their chosen course of study. This supports the overall goals of the National Plan for Equity of Access to Higher Education. In 2019 funding of €9.6m was allocated to the FSD (covering both the higher education and further education sectors as well as Irish students studying in the UK and EU). The type of supports covered include:

  - Assistive technology;

  - Non-medical helpers;

  - Academic/learning support;

  - Deaf supports;

  - Transport supports.

Third Level Education

 368. Deputy Holly Cairns Information on Holly Cairns Zoom on Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris if he will direct third level institutions to enable all students to apply for the laptop scheme through a separate means-testing system. [30358/20]

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris The once-off Covid-19 Grant to support disadvantaged students in the higher education sector in accessing ICT devices has issued to the higher education institutions.

This grant funding is being used to procure devices which will then be lent to students in accordance with application and assessment processes managed locally by each institution.

The equipment funding is complemented by a €10m access funding package which is being used to top up the Student Assistance Fund (SAF) and other access support services in the higher education sector. The SAF is not means tested. As such, it is open to any student experiencing exceptional financial need to apply for support from the SAF and have their application assessed by their institution.

Third Level Admissions

 369. Deputy Holly Cairns Information on Holly Cairns Zoom on Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris if his attention has been drawn to the fact that many student nurses and midwives will return this week to unpaid placement; if he will work with the Minister for Health to ensure that there are sufficient financial supports to remunerate student nurses and midwives; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30359/20]

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris While neither I nor my Department have a role in relation to financial supports for student nurses and midwives on clinical placements arranged by the relevant higher education institutions with health service providers, I am concerned at the difficulties faced by some students arising from the Covid-19 pandemic. Therefore, I asked my officials to raise the matter directly with the Department of Health.

In response the Department of Health has stated that the Minister for Health Recognises the importance of student nurses and midwives completing their essential clinical placements in a safe environment.

Currently nursing and midwife students are not paid for clinical placements in years 1-3 of their studies. Financial supports for these non-intern student nurses and midwives are governed by Department of Health Circular No. 9/2004 which provides for an accommodation allowance of up to €59.70 per week to be paid where it is necessary for a student to obtain accommodation away from his/her normal place of residence. Payment is by way of refund on receipt on certified receipts. Students are also entitled to a refund of travel expenses based on certified receipts. Aware of a long standing commitment to review this placement allowance that was not progressed due to Covid 19, the Minister for Health announced in his speech to the Irish Nurses and Midwives organisation (INMO) on 9 October 2020 that he has asked his officials and the Chief Nurse to review the application of the current allowances in consultation with the INMO and the Psychiatric Nurses Association and to report back to him in 6 weeks.

It is understood that Minister Donnelly has also asked his officials to review the possible options for reinstating the previous arrangement of Health Care Assistant pay for students who are on clinical placements which ran for a limited period earlier this year.

Officials in the Department of Health will keep my Department advised of developments in these areas.

Refugee Resettlement Programme

 370. Deputy Michael McNamara Information on Michael McNamara Zoom on Michael McNamara asked the Minister for Justice Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee if a fairer share of refugees from the Moria camp, Lesbos, Greece, will be accepted here; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29674/20]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee Ireland strongly supports the principle of solidarity and recognises that assistance is required for Member States who face a disproportionate number of applicants and where incidences such as that which occurred in the Moria camp in Lesbos can cause additional hardship. 

Last week, I announced an additional commitment under the Irish Refugee Protection Programme (IRPP) to welcome up to 50 people in family groups from Greece following the recent fire that almost completely destroyed the Moria camp on the island of Lesbos in Greece.

The families who will arrive from Greece have already been granted an international protection status by the Greek authorities. I will grant them ‘programme refugee’ status immediately upon their arrival in Ireland. Officials from my Department are liaising with the European Commission on the detail of this commitment, and along with An Garda Síochána will travel to Greece in the coming weeks to make the arrangements for their safe passage to Ireland.

My colleague, Minister O'Gorman, has also committed to relocating four unaccompanied minors from Greece into the care of Tusla.  Minister O'Gorman and his officials are working with Tusla to accelerate the arrival of additional unaccompanied refugee children from Moria, and hope to make further announcements in due course.

The Irish Refugee Protection Programme (IRPP) was established in 2015 in response to the migration crisis in central and southern Europe. Under this programme, the Government committed to accepting up to 4,000 people into the State, primarily through a combination of the EU Relocation Programme and the UNHCR's Refugee Resettlement Programme.  

To date, more than 3,350 people have arrived in the State under this first phase of the Irish Refugee Protection Programme (IRPP).  Most of the remaining people will arrive under the Irish Refugee Protection Programme Humanitarian Admissions Programme (IHAP).  However, these people make their own travel arrangements, and so no exact timeframe can be given for when they might arrive in Ireland.

Last December, a second phase of the IRPP was announced giving a commitment to welcome a further 2,900 refugees between this year and 2023, through a combination of resettlement and community sponsorship. The refugees who are due to arrive from Greece are in addition to this number.

Ireland can only accept the number of people that we are able to accommodate and support effectively. We will of course consider additional numbers as part of the EU response when we can provide the necessary support services including initial accommodation and appropriate housing once the new arrivals have received some orientation support.  The matter will continue to be kept under review.  

Maternity Leave

 371. Deputy Gino Kenny Information on Gino Kenny Zoom on Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Justice Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee if she will commit to increasing maternity leave and benefit to nine weeks in acknowledgement of the difficult situation parents of new babies are in as a result of the public health emergency; the amount that current legislation permits; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29865/20]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee As the law now stands, a mother is entitled to paid maternity leave of up to 26 weeks, and up to a further 16 weeks of unpaid leave. Any amendment to the legislation governing the provision of maternity leave would require primary legislation.

  There have been significant improvements in the provision of family leave over the past years. Two weeks of paternity leave were introduced in 2016. Two weeks of paid Parent's Leave was introduced in 2019.

  The Minister for Public Expenditure announced in Budget 2021 that he would extend Parent's Benefit by a further three weeks.

  This will be a matter for Minister O'Gorman to progress following the imminent transfer of this function to his Department.

Direct Provision System

 372. Deputy Denis Naughten Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Justice Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee the numbers of persons in the direct provision system for less than six and between six and 12 months; the numbers in excess of one, two, three, four, five, six and seven years, respectively; the corresponding figures for children; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29964/20]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee As of 11 October 2020, a total of 7,014 people are recorded by my Department as being resident in accommodation provided by the International Protection Accommodation Service (IPAS), of whom 1,887 are children. This includes people who are resident in Direct Provision centres, in emergency accommodation in hotels and guesthouses and in Emergency Reception and Orientation Centres used to accommodate refugees admitted under the Irish Refugee Protection Programme (IRPP).

  The table below shows the number of people in accommodation broken down by their length of stay and whether they are an adult or a child.

Time Spent Adult Child Grand Total
0-5 Months 268 65 333
6-11 Months 861 274 1,135
1+ Years 1,743 663 2,406
2+ Years 941 436 1,377
3+ Years 523 201 724
4+ Years 364 138 502
5+ Years 260 57 317
6+ Years 81 25 106
7+ Years 86 28 114
Grand Total 5,127 1,887 7,014


  These figures represent continuous periods of residence and cannot reflect interrupted residential periods where the person may have left our accommodation and returned at a later stage. In addition, these figures only relate to persons who have registered with the International Protection Office (IPO) and does not reflect children resident in the centres who may not have been registered by their parents.

  The length of time a person stays in state provided accommodation generally reflects the length of time taken to reach a final conclusion on their application for international protection or other permission to reside in the State and may also include applications to revoke Deportation Orders. As the application process also allows for legal challenges against negative decisions at many stages of the process, the time taken to finalise many cases can be prolonged.

  There are also more than 1,000 residents with an international protection status or a permission to remain in the State. My Department has a specific team who work in collaboration with DePaul Ireland, the Jesuit Refugee Service, the Peter McVerry Trust, officials in the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, and the City and County Managers Association to collectively support these residents to access housing options. Between January and September of this year, 900 people have moved to accommodation in the community, of whom 644 received assistance from the support services outlined.

  While responsibility for accommodating applicants for international protection is transferring to the new Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth Affairs, the system for the processing of international protection applications will remain under my remit. My Department and I will continue to make improvements to facilitate timely decisions while also maintaining the integrity of the system.


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