Direct Provision

Direct Provision is Ireland’s reception system for asylum seekers. Doras Luimní has been advocating for and with asylum seekers – campaigning for change – since our establishment in the year 2000.

The key changes we advocate include:

  • Alternative-reception-system-3an end to the current system, known as Direct Provision;
  • the right to work for asylum seekers & access to education;
  • the development of an alternative not-for-profit reception system that respects basic human rights principles and considerably limits time spent in reception centres;
  • more transparent decision-making;
  • independent complaints  & appeals mechanism, with access to Ombudsman;
  • development of national standards & inspection system by HIQA;
  • Specialised accommodation & supports for vulnerable applicants (e.g. victims of trafficking/ torture).

Adobe_PDF_file_icon_32x32Download: Alternative Reception System

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What is Direct Provision?

Direct Provision is the current system of accommodating asylum seekers in Ireland, which was introduced in April 2000 as a temporary measure. Asylum seekers are housed in residential institutions known as Direct Provision centres across the country, with 33 centres in total. Direct Provision is intended to provide for the basic needs of asylum seekers as their asylum applications are being processed.

  • The average length of stay in Direct Provision is more than four years, with many having spent up to 10 or 12 years living in these conditions;
  • Three meals are provided at set times each day – residents have no right to cook for themselves;
  • Residents live in shared accommodation, with some sharing rooms with up to eight people of different backgrounds and nationalities.
  • An allowance of €19.10 is provided on a weekly basis, a rate which has not increased since the establishment of the system in the year 2000.
  • Asylum seekers have no right to work in Ireland – unlike most EU member states;
  • The standards of accommodation and living conditions vary widely from centre to centre – there are no national standards for Direct Provision centres;
  • Direct Provision centres are managed by private contractors on a for-profit basis, on behalf of the State.
  • There is no independent complaints mechanism and the Ombudsman does not have jurisdiction of Direct Provision centres.
  • Physical and mental health issues among residents are very common. Asylum seekers are 5 times more likely to experience mental health issues and psychiatric conditions.

right-to-workRight to Work

Ireland’s ban on employment for asylum seekers is known to cause considerable additional integration challenges for current & former asylum seekers.

Ireland is one of only two of the 28 EU member states to ban employment. Ireland have opted out of the EU ‘Reception Directive’, which sets out minimum standards of reception conditions for asylum applicants, including access to the labour market and vocational training nine months after making their application.

Adobe_PDF_file_icon_32x32Download: Asylum Seeker’s Right to Work

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Right to Work

How many people live in Direct Provision?

There are approximately 4,500 asylum seekers living in 33 Direct Provision centres across Ireland, including approximately 1,300 children. In the Limerick area, there are approximately 400 asylum seekers living in three Direct Provision centre’s (Hanratty’s Hostel; Mount Trenchard; Knockalisheen). Of these, approximately 50 are children. With the length of time in the asylum process ranging from less than a year to more than seven years, these children spend a significant proportion of their childhood in direct provision accommodation.

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Working Group on Direct Provision & Supports to Asylum Seekers

WG reportFollowing many years of campaigning, the Government acknowledged that the Direct Provision system was unfit for purpose. In October 2014, the Government announced the establishment of a Working Group which was directed to review the Direct Provision system and outline recommendations for reform. In June 2015, the Working Group published a report outlining 173 recommendations. The implementation of these recommendations is ongoing and Doras Luimní are monitoring the progress of same.

Since the publication of the Working Group report in June 2015, a number of positive developments have taken place, including a considerable increase in the number of long-term residents of Direct Provision receiving permission to remain in Ireland. See progress report below for more information.

Note: Key recommendations such as the Right to Work and Access Education have not been progressed. The ban on seeking employment has been re-affirmed in the International Protection Act (2015).

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Campaign activities


End Direct Provision Limerick
Doras Luimní established a community campaign group ‘End Direct Provision Limerick’, in September 2014, which comprises residents of the four Direct Provision centres in the Limerick region and concerned individuals, activists and academics in Limerick with an interest in the issue.


DP_Postcard_birds_Front-copy-1024x726Clear the Asylum Backlog
Doras Luimní and the Irish Refugee Council launched a proposal to clear the asylum backlog in December 2014. The proposal calls on the Minister for Justice to grant permission to live in Ireland to various categories of people who have been trapped in Direct Provision as a result of the failed asylum system in Ireland.


Invisible Children
Doras Luimní carried out a public awareness campaign entitled Invisible Children, in conjunction with the Irish Refugee Council, to highlight the  physical, social and psychological impact on children of growing up in asylum seekers accommodation. The installation replicates a typical family room in Direct Provision.