The impact of Covid-19 on Direct Provision centres will be raised at the Oireachtas Covid-19 committee tomorrow.
The session, which will begin at 4.30pm in the Dáil chamber, will see representatives of the HSE and Department of Justice answer questions from TDs on the situation in the centres.
The most recent figures show that there were 13 clusters of the virus - that is two or more cases in a single setting - in Direct Provision amounting to 171 cases overall. For comparison, there were six clusters in prisons with 19 cases.
The issue has been brought into focus by the case of the former Skellig Star hotel in Caherciveen, County Kerry.
At least 25 residents of the hotel, which was hastily turned into a Direct Provision centre in March, have tested positive for the virus. Both residents of the centre and the town have complained that the facility is unsuitable, with Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan apologising to the town in a letter last week.
It is understood that a number of migrant representative bodies have been invited to submit statements to the committee. Green Party TD Roderic O'Gorman said that the outbreak of the virus shows the larger issues with Direct Provision.
“The Covid-19 crisis highlights many of the fundamental problems with Direct Provision. Residents within Direct Provision and emergency accommodation were asked to social distance by public health authorities when social distance simply wasn’t possible.
This is particularly true in Caherciveen. People in the Skellig Star have been left frustrated, isolated, and alone, and both they and local residents have been contacting me urging action be taken to support those in the Skellig Star.
“[Tomorrow] we will be examining Direct Provision in the Oireachtas Covid Committee. The Green Party will be seeking clarity on when exactly the HSE and Department of Justice knew coronavirus was present among some of the Direct Provision residents before they were moved, the timing around the decision to move people to Skellig Star, and an account of communication between the HSE, Department of Justice, and Skellig Star management.”
Sinn Féin justice spokesperson Martin Kenny said that the issue showed that conditions at the centres were not good enough.