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Direct Provision


Ireland’s reception system for asylum seekers is known as Direct Provision. The Direct Provision system has been an important focus of our advocacy & campaigning work since the year 2000.

Direct Provision is the current system of accommodating asylum seekers in Ireland. Asylum seekers are housed in residential institutions known as Direct Provision centres across the country, with 35 centres in total. Seven of the centres are State-owned but the majority of the centres are run on a for-profit basis by private contractors.

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 24 months, with many residents 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 €21.60 is provided on a weekly basis. The 2019 Budget has allowed for an increase to €38 for adults and €29 for children, bringing these payments in line with basic Social Protection standards.
  • Until February 2018, asylum seekers had no right to work in Ireland – unlike most EU member states (see Right to Work for updates);
  • The living conditions vary widely from centre to centre. In August 2018, the Department of Justice and Equality published a draft National Standards for Direct Provision Centres and called for public consultations on the same. Submissions will be taken into an account and a finalized National Standards document will be published.
  • The majority of Direct Provision centres are managed by private contractors on a for-profit basis, on behalf of the State.
  • 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.
  • Children have been born and raised living in these conditions, the long-term effects of which are still unknown.


There are approximately 5400 asylum seekers living in 35 Direct Provision centres across Ireland, including just over 1,500 children. In Limerick and Clare, there are approximately 550 asylum seekers living in four Direct Provision centres.

To view monthly and annual statistics on Direct Provision, please visit the Reception & Integration Agency (RIA) website:

RIA Statistics

Direct Provision was designed as short-term accommodation but many asylum applicants experience lengthy stays, which is associated with declining physical and mental health.

The current system creates barriers to integration and results in social exclusion. Until 9th February 2018, asylum seekers were not permitted to work, thus being forced to rely on the State and further hindering integration while compounding mental health issues. Visit the Right to Work webpage for more details on this issue.


Adult weekly allowance for people living in Direct Provision

*2019 Budget has allowed for an increase to €38 weekly.

2 years

Average length of time people live in Direct Provision

X5 mental health

Asylum seekers are five times more likely to develop mental health & psychiatric issues


Until July 2018, Ireland was one of three of the 28 EU member states to 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 six months after making their application.

A Supreme Court judgement on a case taken in 2017 found Ireland’s complete ban on employment for asylum seeker’s to be unconstitutional. In response to this judgement, Ireland promised to opt-in to this Directive in 2018, to bring Ireland in-line with other EU member States and to facilitate access to the labour market. Visit Right to Work for more updates.

To read more about the EU Directive and Minimum Standards for Reception Conditions, visit the EU Commission website


In June 2015, following extensive advocacy efforts, the Government published the McMahon report, which comprised 173 recommendations for reform of the protection process including Direct Provision and supports to asylum seekers.

Visit Progress on McMahon Report Recommendations for details on the reform process to date.


Doras Luimní has been campaigning for change to the asylum system since our establishment in the year 2000: the year the Direct Provision system was introduced. The key issues on which advocate include:

End current system of accommodating asylum seekers, known as Direct Provision.

Transparent decision-making

Improved legal support for people making asylum applications

Independent appeals and complaints mechanism

Right to work for asylum seekers.

Development of not-for-profit reception system that respects human rights principles.



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.


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.


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


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