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 32 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 more than three 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 €21.60 is provided on a weekly basis.
- Until February 2018, asylum seekers had no right to work in Ireland – unlike most EU member states (see Right to Work for updates);
- The standards of accommodation and living conditions vary widely from centre to centre – there are no national standards for Direct Provision centres;
- 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 4,500 asylum seekers living in 32 Direct Provision centres across Ireland, including approximately 1,500 children. In the Limerick area, there are nearly 400 asylum seekers living in four Direct Provision centre’s, including approximately 50 are children.
To view monthly and annual statistics on Direct Provision, please visit the Reception & Integration Agency (RIA) website:
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.
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
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.