An asylum seeker is a person who is awaiting a decision on an application for refugee status. In order to be recognised as a refugee, it must be proven that the individual has a well-founded fear of persecution in their country of former residence.
There is a widespread perception that asylum seekers in Ireland receive an abundance of benefits and entitlements. Asylum seekers are not entitled to social welfare payments and, unlike most EU countries, asylum seekers in Ireland are not permitted to work while their applications are being processed.
Asylum seekers receive a weekly allowance of €19.10. This rate has not increased since 1999 when it was first introduced. Basic accommodation is provided, which may consist of a whole family sharing a small room, or a single adult could share a room with up to 8 residents of different cultural backgrounds. All meals are provided at set times each day and residents are not permitted to cook for themselves.
Ireland has been heavily criticised by the United Nations and other international human rights bodies, for its treatment of asylum seekers. The length of time asylum seekers are required to wait for a final decision on their applications for refugee status is a major concern. 25% of asylum seekers have spent more than 6 years living in these conditions.
There is also a common belief that Ireland receives large numbers of asylum seekers.
In reality, asylum seekers make-up less than 0.09% total population in Ireland (4,000 – 4,500 persons). There are approximately 450 asylum seekers resident in four Direct Provision centres in the Limerick region.
For more information on Direct Provision, see here: Direct Provision