How ‘temporary’ became permanent:
A temporary or ‘interim’ arrangement established back in 2000 to house asylum seekers while they await the processing of their applications the Direct Provision system continues to exist.
Who lives in Direct Provision?
In July, 2018 there were 5,611 people in 35 Direct Provision centres located across 17 counties. Of these 267 people were in the asylum process for at least 7-years. In terms of age breakdown there were 698 infant toddlers (aged 0-4) in Direct Provision and 644 children aged 5 to 12.
The majority of residents in centres come from Pakistan, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Albania, Malawi, South Africa, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Syria. Another 84 nationalities are also represented in the centres.
What do asylum seekers live on?
Adults receive a personal allowance of €38.80 per week. Children receive an allowance of €29.80 per week. The weekly allowance was raised from €19.10 for adults and €15.60 for children in August 2017.
Time spent in the system:
Residents were spending an average of 23 months in direct provision by the end of December 2017. In 2015 the average length of stay was 38 months and in 2016 it dropped to 32 months.
Some centres, like Mosney in Co Meath, have fully self-catering accommodation where residents can cook their own meals. Other centres have more limited cooking facilities where residents can cook on hobs in a communal area. The remainder of centres provides canteen style food over a counter.
Some of the centres have very limited exercise equipment inside and/or outside the main buildings. Most asylum seekers do not partake in any organised sport or physical activity though they will spend much of their day walking to save money on transport costs.
Ability to work:
In 2017 the Supreme Court found that the ban on those in direct provision seeking work was unconstitutional. Under the new rules, an asylum seeker must have been in Ireland for a period of nine months and be awaiting a first decision from the International Protection Office about their asylum application to qualify. Now work permits are granted to some asylum seekers. Many still do not qualify. Obstacles exist for asylum seekers though as many still cannot open a bank account. Under the new rules, those who find employment will have to start contributing to the cost of their stay at a Direct Provision centre.