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Boris Pasternak’s ‘Doctor Zhivago’ and His Nobel Prize

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If you were the only person in the world who thought yourself a genius, it would be an embarrassment to be named Barry Parsnip.

Robert Zimmerman solved the nomenclature problem. He became Bob Dylan – and Hey Presto! He won the Nobel Prize for Literature for 2016.

Barry Parsnip (aka Boris Pasternak) didn’t solve the problem. But it was solved for him by a combination of the British, US and Soviet secret services, with an assist from the Dutch and Italians.  He won the Nobel Prize for Literature for 1958 before his novel, Doctor Zhivago, had been read in the original Russian by more than a thousand people, counting government officials. Following the prize-giving until now, about 10 million people have read it, mostly in translation.

But time and numbers haven’t improved either on Parsnip or on Zhivago. It is still, as Vladimir Nabokov said at the start, “a sorry thing, clumsy, trite, and melodramatic, with stock situations, voluptuous lawyers, unbelievable girls, romantic robbers, and trite coincidences.”  Kornei  Chukovsky, Pasternak’s neighbour and comrade, thought the novel was “boring, banal.”  Yevgeny Yevtushenko said it was “disappointing”. Anna Akhmatova told Pasternak to his face that Zhivago was a bad novel “except for the landscapes.” She was being ironic – there are no landscapes in the book.

Not to Pasternak’s face, Nabokov went for Pasternak’s jugular – his vanity. Nabokov called Pasternak’s composition “goistrous and goggle-eyed.”  That turned out to be the perfect picture of a victim, and MI6 and the CIA were able to provoke the Soviet authorities into persecution  of Pasternak the victim. That operation, codenamed AEDINOSAUR,  confirmed  what the West wanted the world to believe – that Russians are bad by a standard noone else in the world is held to.

Pasternak’s story, when it happened and still today,  is also confirmation of the readiness of some Russians to believe that however crapulous and despised they are at home, there will always be love for them across the frontier, in the West.  

In prose Parsnip, er Pasternak was, as Americans used to call them, a poor Johnny One-Note.

He knew a small section of old Moscow, where Tverskaya Street ran into Brest (now Belarus) railway station. His countryside was restricted to the banks of the Kama River, around Solikamsk, in Perm region, where he spent World War I, disqualified from military service on account of a leg injury. He also spent World War II in the relative safety of Chistopol, in Tatarstan, 800 kilometres east of Moscow.

Left to right: Leonid Pasternak; Rozalia Kaufman; Boris Pasternak, aged 26, in 1916

As a youngster, he tried drawing and painting, but was never as promising as his father, the portrait painter Leonid Pasternak. He tried music, but was never as adept as his mother, Rozalia Kaufman, a pianist. Alexander Scriabin, a visitor to his parents’ dacha, persuaded him to drop university studies in music and law, in favour of philosophy. After a term in Germany, he graduated with a thesis on “Hermann Cohen’s Theoretical Philosophy”. He then decided on literature for a career. He went to soirees where he distinguished himself presenting papers with titles like “Symbolism and Immortality.”

The year was 1913, and there was a surplus of that. Pasternak knew little else. He didn’t follow birds, cats or dogs. He didn’t hunt or fish; collect mushrooms; drink vodka or champagne; play cards; cultivate a garden; ride horses, drive cars. His experiments with women were limited to those making few demands — household servants and prostitutes, not his fellow students. He didn’t join university clubs or run in political demonstrations. His only autobiographical recollections of the 1905 student riots and general strike in Moscow were of a drawing by his father of a wounded student; of his father’s meetings at the time with Maxim Gorky; and of “stray bullets whistling down the empty streets”. Pasternak was absent.  He was also absent at the Bolshevik Revolution and the civil war, after which his mother, father and sisters emigrated to Berlin, and then on to England.

What Pasternak knew from experience, and what he imagined, he repeated in print every five years or so.  The Childhood of Luvers appeared in 1922; Safe Conduct was written between 1929 and 1931;  The Last Summer in 1934.  In 1956, when he recapitulated the same life stories, he conceded the earlier effort “was spoiled by its affected manner, the besetting sin of those days”.  That’s vintage Pasternak – blame was always elsewhere.

As he repeated the stories, Pasternak’s lack of experience began to show in the increasing strain of his imagery.  He became the master of the mixed metaphor. A cat “flaps its wings at aprons and plates”; a bulldog raises his head “like a slobbering old dwarf with sagging cheeks”; a blackbird whistled “as if blowing through a clogged flute”;  rye before harvest in the field has “such a sinister dark brown, the colour of old, dull gold”;  an engine releases steam “with a singsong burble, as if it were milk coming to the boil in over a spirit lamp in a nursery.” Snow, which ought to be the speciality of every Russian imagist, turns out, for Pasternak, to “pour with the convulsive haste of some white madness”. On another occasion, it flew “obliquely…as if trying all the while to make up for something”. And then again, “over the blue line of the snowdrifts the snow greedily absorbed the pineapple sweetness the sun poured into it.”

Leon Trotsky called Pasternak in for a 30-minute meeting  in August 1922, but Pasternak didn’t let him get a word in edgeways. Except for this question: “Yesterday I began struggling through the dense shrubbery of your book. What were you trying [sic] to express in it?” Pasternak replied that Trotsky should decide for himself, whereupon Trotsky closed the conversation and sent Pasternak off.

Joseph Stalin committed a great many sins, but deconstructing Pasternak wasn’t one of them.

Stalin, a voracious reader, collector and annotator of books, considered Pasternak so unexceptional, unserious and unthreatening, he didn’t think he was worth reading. For what Stalin did read, click.

In December 1935, Stalin publicly declared that Vladimir Mayakovsky “was and remains the best and most talented poet of our epoch”. Earlier Pasternak had been envious of Mayakovsky’s acclaim, and resented Mayakovsky’s criticisms; they included the recommendation that two of Pasternak’s early books of poetry should not have been published at all. When Pasternak said he liked Mayakovsky, it was after he “discovered certain unexpected points of similarity in our technique.

Mayakovsky’s suicide in 1930 was Pasternak’s chance at put-down. “Mayakovsky shot himself out of pride,” Pasternak wrote years later, “because he condemned  something in himself, or close to him, to which his self-respect could not submit”. But when Stalin spoke more positively of Mayakovsky, Pasternak  wrote this to Stalin:  “Your lines about him had a saving effect on me. Of late, under the influence of the West, [people] have been inflating [my significance] terribly and according [me] exaggerated significance… they began suspecting serious artistic power in me. Now, since you have put Mayakovsky in first place, this suspicion has been lifted from me, and with a light heart I can live and work as before, in modest silence, with the surprises and mysteries without which I would not love life. In the name of this mysteriousness, fervently loving and devoted to you, B. Pasternak.

This was false modesty; Stalin wasn’t fooled. More than a decade later, in 1949, Stalin told a prosecutor to take no action against Pasternak. “Leave him,” Stalin said, “he’s a cloud dweller”.

To his fellow writers and colleagues in the Writers Union, the cloud on which Pasternak sat himself was so puffed up with vanity and self-seeking, he had almost no peers for supporters. When he started reading excerpts of Doctor Zhivago, as he composed them, there were a handful of acolytes, but no professional endorsements. By the time Stalin died in 1953, Pasternak knew that no one in Moscow took his work seriously. Still, in December 1955, after he had written the last lines of the book,  Pasternak told an acolyte: “You cannot imagine what I have achieved! I have found and given names to all this sorcery that has been the cause of suffering, bafflement, amazement, and dispute for several decades. Everything is named in simple, transparent, and sad words. I also once again renewed and redefined the dearest and most important things: land and sky, great passion, creative spirit, life and death.

The book on the operation appeared in 2014.   Although Finn and Couvee applied to MI6, they report that the British intelligence agency refused to release its Pasternak files. The CIA records indicate that the British probably hatched the idea of promoting the novel as a propaganda strike against Moscow before the Americans thought of it.

In May 1956, five months after Pasternak had finished Doctor Zhivago, he gave a copy of the  manuscript to an Italian for relay to the Milan publisher, Giangiacomo Feltrinelli.  Pasternak had already submitted the work for publication in Russian, and there had been an anticipatory notice of its appearance in April 1956. But Pasternak told the Italian “in the USSR the novel will not come out.” The reason, he said, was that “it doesn’t confirm to official cultural guidelines.”  The more often Pasternak repeated that line to foreign visitors, the more he believed it, the more foreigners showed up to request the manuscript  – and the more certain the outcome became.

By the summer of 1956 Pasternak had given a copy to Helene Peltier for publication of a French translation in Paris. Days later, he gave Isaiah Berlin a copy for an English translation and publication. Berlin is described in the Finn book as an Oxford don and an academic scholar.  Omitted was Berlin’s wartime service with British intelligence and the Foreign Office, and his ongoing links with the Soviet operations branch of MI6 at the time Berlin was meeting with Pasternak.  Berlin was one of the first of fluent Russian-speaking Britons to receive the manuscript from Pasternak. There were others.  It was not until December 1957 – eighteen months after Berlin received Pasternak’s manuscript — that MI6 sent its copy of the book in Russian to the CIA. What was happening in the interval was that the news of MI6’s interest in the book leaked to the KGB, and the British decided to withhold what they had from the Americans.

Here is the declassified CIA document.   The implication on the British side is that this was the first time Pasternak’s book had been sent to the CIA. The implication in the CIA document release is that the agency had thought Pasternak was a “cloud dweller” and hadn’t thought of Doctor Zhivago for literary merit or info-warfare before.

Berlin wrote later that as soon as he had read the manuscript in mid-1956, he recognized its value. Spot Berlin’s qualifications: “Unlike some [sic] of its readers in both the Soviet Union and the West I thought it was a work of genius. It seemed – it seems – to me to convey an entire range of human experience, and to create a world, even if it contains only one genuine inhabitant [sic], in language of unexampled [sic] imaginative power.” Apparently, Berlin kept shtum in front of Americans.

In August of 1956, a few weeks after Berlin had launched Pasternak’s book in London, a KGB general, Ivan Serov, reported to the Kremlin that Feltrinelli was preparing the book to appear in Italian, and that Pasternak was trying to get the book out in France and the UK. That is the Feltrinelli version. Exactly how, and from how many sources, the KGB had learned of the book’s publication plan in the West isn’t known.  What is certain is that publication of Doctor Zhivago was interpreted in Moscow as an operation by hostile foreign intelligence agencies for anti-Soviet propaganda.  At this point, the Soviet Central Committee decided on a quiet reaction – they would try to block the Italian edition through their Italian Communist Party links to Feltrinelli; and they would ask the Writers Union to stop Pasternak’s unexpurgated version from appearing in Russian.

If possible, the Central Committee calculated, it might get Pasternak to agree to edit his manuscript, so that the Russian edition would lack the anti-Soviet propaganda elements. Who then would be able to tell where they came from?  This under-estimated Pasternak’s conviction that his genius would brook no editing of the book at all.

When the foreign blocking moves failed, and it appeared Feltrinelli would be followed by editions in French and in English, the Soviets escalated, to match what they believed the western campaign was escalating against them. Just five paragraph-long excerpts from the 700-page book were repeatedly cited; in the Vintage Classics paperback edition  of 2011 they can be found at pages 267, 285, 362, 365, and 460.  “What was conceived as ideal and lofty,” Pasternak had concluded in the third last paragraph of the book, “became coarse and material. So Greece turned into Rome, so the Russian enlightenment turned into the Russian revolution”.  After quoting lines from an Alexander Blok poem of 1910, he added: “now all that was metaphorical has become literal, and the children are children, and the terrors are terrifying…

Pasternak did not object to the attention, but his amour propre was offended that so little of his masterpiece was being read, at home or abroad. Late in 1957 he told a German visitor: “Everybody’s [sic] writing about it but who in fact has read it? What do they quote from it? Always the same passages – three pages, perhaps, out of a book of 700 pages.

In retrospect, Soviet officials have also conceded this was all they had read of Doctor Zhivago; noone wanted to bother with the rest. But the crackdown on all of Pasternak’s works, his wife, lover, and friends commenced in earnest. What he had actually written in the pages of Doctor Zhivago became as irrelevant to the Soviet campaign against its anti-revolutionary excerpts as the evidence of Pasternak’s genius meant to the promotion of Doctor Zhivago in Milan or in London. For a year the campaign succeeded with almost no readers.

Just 3,000 copies of the Italian translation were printed in November 1957 and subsequently sold. On December 12, 1957, the Psychological and Paramilitary Staff branch at CIA headquarters recommended that Doctor Zhivago “should be published in a maximum number of foreign editions for maximum world distribution and acclaim and consideration for such honor as the Nobel prize.

Since noone at the CIA had twisted Levin’s arm into saying this — not even his wife, Elena Zarudnaya, translator of Trostsky’s Diary in Exile — Levin’s promotion of Pasternak has never been qualified as manufacturing propaganda. Six months later, though, in July 1958, that is exactly what John Maury, head of the CIA’s Soviet Russia Division and director of AEDINOSAUR, saw as Pasternak’s value through Russian and translation printings of the book, culminating with the Nobel Prize.  Pasternak’s message, Maury wrote in a memo to Frank Wisner, the agency’s head of operations, “that every person is entitled to a private life…poses a fundamental challenge to the Soviet ethic of sacrifice the individual to the Communist system. There is no call to revolt against the regime in the novel, but the heresy which Dr. Zhivago preaches – political passivity – is fundamental.

The CIA has revealed that Zhivago for Kremlin regime change was proposed by Maury to get Wisner’s approval for money to implement Operation AEDINOSAUR. Even today the CIA has censored the amount from the declassified document. Finn and Couvee report that several million dollars – about $20 million in current dollars – were spent on paying for Dutch personnel, printing and distribution costs for the first thousand copies of a Russian edition, produced by the Dutch intelligence service in Amsterdam. It appeared in the first week of September. About 500 copies were then smuggled into the USSR over the following weeks. On October 22, 1958, the Swedish Academy announced Pasternak had been awarded the Nobel.

Suppose the KGB knew what the MI6 and CIA were up to, in league with the Italians and Dutch. Kim Philby, the KGB agent inside MI6,  was no longer working in London  when Berlin brought Pasternak’s book in; Philby was in Beirut, Lebanon, but he was still connected. If Philby read Pasternak, it’s still secret.

In short retrospect, Pasternak got what he thought he deserved. “I would have hidden it away,” he wrote in a letter to the Central Committee in August 1957, “had it been feebly written. But it proved to have more strength to it than I had dreamed possible – strength comes from on high, and thus its fate was out of my hands.

In longer retrospect, the Central Committee and the KGB over-reacted. It was from on high that the fate of Doctor Zhivago was sealed, but not from Pasternak’s divinity. Had Soviet officials done less or nothing —  had they encouraged Pasternak’s critics and rivals in the Writers Union to make light of the work, or poke fun of Pasternak’s obvious weaknesses, the Anglo-American intelligence assessment might have let the opportunity for regime change  go. Time has let the air out of the Pasternak legend – it’s now the 197 minutes of the film of the book, not the book which western audiences recall. In Russia the audiences have evaporated. It’s a standing joke among Russian literary critics  to say they haven’t read Pasternak, but feel strongly about Doctor Zhivago and what happened in 1958.

Zurab Tsereteli has offered to turn a maquette into a monument to Pasternak, but for several years in a row the Moscow city government hasn’t agreed to a site.

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In Washington Maury’s Operation AEDINOSAUR was one of the very few he managed at the Soviet Division which was a success on its own terms. Maury was rewarded with a promotion to Athens, Greece. There he was the CIA station chief during the military putsch of 1967. That’s the only regime change operation at which Maury succeeded, though not for long.

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Remains found in Dublin adds intrigue to search for Robert Emmet’s grave

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Skeletal remains have been found at one of the locations identified as a possible last resting place of Robert Emmet who was executed on this day in 1803.

The remains were found during an excavation at the back of St Paul’s Church in Stoneybatter in Dublin.

The disappearance of the body of Robert Emmet is one of the great mysteries of Irish history.

Emmet was tried and then hanged for instigating the ill-fated 1803 rebellion. He became a symbol of Irish martyrdom for his speech from the dock in which he concluded: “Let them and me rest in obscurity and peace, and my name remain uninscribed, until other times and other men can do justice to my character. When my country takes her place among the nations of the earth, then, and not till then, let my epitaph be written.”

After he was publicly hanged outside St Catherine’s Church in Thomas Street on September 20th, 1803, his head was displayed to the crowd by the hangman Thomas Galvin. The remains of Emmet’s body was taken to Bully’s Acre in the grounds of what is now the Royal Hospital Kilmainham and buried there.

When some of his friends went to reintern his remains from Bully’s Acre to St Michan’s Church in Church Street, a church associated with the United Irishmen, they found there was no body there, and so began a search which endures to this day.

Robert Emmet was publicly hanged outside St Catherine’s Church in Thomas Street on September 20th, 1803.
Robert Emmet was publicly hanged outside St Catherine’s Church in Thomas Street on September 20th, 1803.

His great-nephew Dr Thomas Addis Emmet requested an archaeological dig at the family vault in St Peter’s Church in Aungier Street to mark the centenary of Emmet’s death in 1903, but that proved to be unsuccessful.

Speculation

St Paul’s Church is another contender in the saga of Emmet’s remains. It was the parish church of Kilmainham Gaol’s doctor and effective governor Dr Edward Trevor.

In his book In the Footsteps of Robert Emmet, JJ Reynolds speculated that Trevor removed Emmet’s body and put it in an unmarked grave in the grounds of St Paul’s Church. This was to ensure that his grave would not become a shrine for Irish nationalism.

The church, which was the venue for the consecration of the philosopher George Berkeley as Bishop of Cloyne in 1734, has been converted into the Spade Enterprise Centre, a not-for-profit social enterprise unit.

The land where the skeletal remains were found is being turned into a shared kitchen for small business enterprises in the area.

The yard at the the back of St Paul’s Church in Stoneybatter, Dublin where skeletal remains were found.
The yard at the the back of St Paul’s Church in Stoneybatter, Dublin where skeletal remains were found.

Archaeologist Franc Miles said burials in the grounds were from 1702 to the 1860s. A extant set of burial records remain, but Emmet, if he really is buried there, would have no record.

Previous exhumations were carried out when the graveyard was closed in 1860s to make way for a school on the site.

“With all the evacuations, we were left with bits and pieces of body. There weren’t many full skeletons,” he said.

Mr Miles said it all the gravemarkers and stones were removed in the 1860s “so all you are left with really are bones.”

Mr Miles said it would be difficult if not impossible to identify Emmet’s remains even if they are buried in the grounds of St Paul’s Church.

His own “educated guess” is that Emmet’s body is still buried somewhere in Bully’s Acre.

As many of his supporters have said over the last two centuries: “Do not look for him. His grave is Ireland.”

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How the cost of renting an apartment in Copenhagen compares to other cities in Denmark

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With the arguable exception of second city Aarhus, Copenhagen is significantly more expensive to rent housing than anywhere else in Denmark.

But the extra cost in the capital depends on where else in Denmark you compare with, as well as the type of housing you rent.

Private or general housing?

First, it is important to note the difference between the two main types of rental housing in Denmark: private rentals and almene boliger (literally, ‘general housing’), a form of subsidised housing.

For almene boliger, local municipalities put up 10 percent of building costs and in return have the right to decide who is allocated one in four available apartments, enabling them to provide housing to municipal residents who need it. The housing therefore plays a role in the social housing provision.

This type of housing is normally managed by a boligforening or housing association. Rent goes towards costs of running the housing and to pay off the housing association’s loans, which means property owners aren’t profiting from rents and prices are controlled.

Aside from housing assigned by the municipality, almene boliger are open for anyone. However, to get one, you must get to the top of a waiting list, which you join by signing up with associations which operate housing in the city where you live (or want to live).

In Copenhagen or Aarhus, it can take years to get to the top of these lists, while in smaller cities you might get an offer in weeks or even days.

As such, many newcomers to Denmark must turn to the private rental market if they are living in one of the main cities.

READ ALSO: Deposits, complaints and registration: Five key things to know about renting in Denmark

Private housing: Copenhagen clearly pricier 

A study conducted by housing research centre Bolius in November 2020 found the cost of a 56 square-metre apartment in Copenhagen’s Nørrebro district to be 8,536 kroner per month.

The study, which was based on data from 2019 and 2020 from rental platforms boliga.dk and boligportal.dk, shows the average monthly cost of non-limited private apartments on Nørrebro, compared with 16 other locations in Denmark.

The cost takes into account the cost of a deposit (normally three months’ rent) and adds it to the average cost of renting the housing for five years (thereby assuming none of the deposit is returned to the tenant).

In comparison to the price in Nørrebro, the study found rent in Hillerød north of Copenhagen to be slightly less (8,218 kroner) for a slightly larger apartment (65 square metres).

Moving further out from Copenhagen, costs begin to drop even more.

In Kalundborg on the west coast of Zealand, you can rent a 71-square-metre flat for 5,167 kroner per month. Næstved, a commuter town between Copenhagen and the Great Belt Bridge, comes in at 6,039 kroner for an apartment at 72 square metres.

The cheaper rents are consistent further to the west, exemplified in Jutland cities Aalborg (5,544 kroner for 62 square metres), Vejle (6.696 kroner for 84 square metres) and Esbjerg (4,399 kroner for 54 square metres).

Although Aarhus is not included in the study, third-largest city Odense is. Here, there is still a significant saving on Copenhagen, with 8,488 kroner, a similar rent to that in Nørrebro, getting you an apartment over 50 percent bigger at 82 square metres.

General (almene) housing: closer, but still higher in Greater Copenhagen

Rent prices for almene or subsidised housing were most recently analysed in a 2020 report by Landsbyggefonden (National Building Foundation), a support institution for the social housing sector.

According to that report, the rent for family housing (meaning housing not reserved for students or seniors) is “on average, approximately 100-200 kroner per square metre higher [per year, ed.] east of the Great Belt Bridge than west of it”.

Of the five administrative regions, average rent for family subsidised housing is highest in Greater Copenhagen at 906 kroner per square metre for a year’s rent.

The lowest rents can be found in South Denmark, where the yearly cost is 722 kroner per square metre.

Zealand is the region that comes closest to Copenhagen on the costs for this type of regular housing. Here, tenants can expect to pay 859 kroner per square metre in a year. The equivalent costs in Central Jutland and North Jutland and 778 kroner and 747 kroner respectively.

The study also places Greater Copenhagen as the most expensive region when rents are presented as the median monthly rent for family housing.

Here, the median values are split into five categories based on apartment size, with Copenhagen coming out as the most expensive region for each category.

For example, the median monthly rents for apartments between 50-60 square metres are as follows: 5,039 kroner (Greater Copenhagen); 4,913 kroner (Zealand); 4,541 kroner (Central Jutland); 4,388 kroner (North Jutland); 4,236 kroner (South Denmark). The national average is 4,667 kroner.

Sources: Domea, Bolius, Landsbyggefonden



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Officials pushed for State to buy direct provision centres from private firms

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The Government should buy a number of privately-owned direct provision centres as a “priority” as it would be more “cost effective” for the State to run the facilities for asylum seekers, international protection officials have said.

The savings arising from owning the accommodation centres rather than paying private contractors to do so “could be considerable”, departmental briefing documents provided to Minister for Children and Integration Roderic O’Gorman last year state.

The vast majority of direct provision centres are currently owned and run by private companies, with accommodation providers having received some €1.6 billion since 1999, including €183 million last year.

The latest figures show some 7,150 people are in the system of seven State-owned sites and 39 private centres. A further 24 commercially-owned premises are being used to provide emergency accommodation for asylum seekers.

The briefing document, released to The Irish Times under the Freedom of Information Act, says that housing people seeking asylum in State-owned centres would provide the “best protection from the vulnerability of present market reliance”.

“They are also much more cost efficient to run, and the State owns the asset,” it notes.

The document suggested that State centres should aim to accommodate 5,000 people, and “allowing the private sector to supply the rest is regarded as an achievable and reasonable target”.

The purchase of existing centres from private providers “to immediately boost the State’s footprint in this area should be considered as a priority,” the internal document said.

“Some service providers may be open to this and the market appears to be favourable at present,” it said.

The internal briefing suggested the department could then seek private companies or NGOs to run the centres, which would be a “competitive cost option”.

‘Badly needed’

Ongoing maintenance for centres owned by the State was also “badly needed,” as current pressures on the Office of Public Works (OPW) meant it was not possible “for immediate repairs to be done if required”.

“In exploring the model of more State centres, we need to agree and acquire a capital budget,” the briefing stated.

“State land does not require planning permission for new centres as the Minister has a power under the Acts, whereby the OPW can grant the planning permission and this is usually a three-month process. It is not subject to appeal.”

The document says that State centres “can also have a bigger footprint as it will be a permanent fixture in the locality”. In recent years a number of plans for private providers to open direct provision centres in regional towns have been met with protests from locals and anti-immigration activists.

Mr O’Gorman’s department has sought to reform the direct provision system and is seeking to replace the network of centres with a new system of accommodation and supports by the end of 2024.

New centres

A department spokesman confirmed the State has not bought any new centres since the briefing note was written. The spokesman said under the planned overhaul of direct provision, asylum-seekers who arrived into the country would initially be housed in a number of reception and integration centres.

Asylum-seekers will spend a maximum of four months in the reception centres before moving into housing secured through Approved Housing Bodies.

“These centres will be State-owned and purpose built to provide suitable accommodation for approximately 2,000 people at any one time, to cater for the flow-through of the 3,500 applicants over a 12-month period,” he said.


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