FAQs about asylum

Who is a refugee?

In plain English, a refugee is anyone who leaves their country because they fear they are in danger of persecution for one of the following five reasons:

  1. Race – including ethnicity
  2. Religion – in some countries having no religion is viewed as badly as being the ‘wrong’ religion
  3. Nationality
  4. Membership of a particular social group – this can include things like membership of a trade union, your gender (i.e. male or female), your sexual orientation, your age (i.e. if children are in danger of persecution)
  5. Political opinion – this is not only if you are a member of a political party, but if you have any political opinions, or even if people think you do.


Who is eligible for subsidiary protection?

A third country national who is not a refugee but if returned to his/her country of origin faces a real risk of suffering serious harm consisting of the death penalty or execution or torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of the person in their country of origin or a serious and individual threat to a civilian’s life or person by reason of indiscriminate violence in situations of international or internal armed conflict.

Who is an asylum seeker?

An asylum seeker is someone who is seeking to be recognised as a refugee.  If they are granted this recognition they are declared a refugee.

Where do refugees come from?Who is a refugee

Refugees come from many places across the world. Sometimes the persecution people flee is well known and recognised, for example the war in Syria has been well reported and is on the international community’s radar. For others, their plight is not so widely known, or the persecution they face is because of more personal reasons or actions – your sexuality, gender, involvement in trade unions. There is often a misconception that only war generates refugees. The reality is there are many reasons, some that are less visible and talked about.

How do asylum seekers live in Ireland?

While their application is being processed, asylum seekers are housed by the government’s Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) in direct provision accommodation centres around the country.  This means that they live in hostel-like accommodation, where families are often housed in one room, and singles usually share a room with others of the same sex.  Shower and toilet facilities are often shared.  Televisions are provided in each room and some centres have a games room.  Meals are cooked for the residents, and served at a set time each day.  There are no facilities for preparing meals in the vast majority of centres.

Do asylum seekers get social welfare or children’s allowance?

Asylum seekers receive a weekly allowance of €19.10 per adult and €15.60 per child.  This must cover any additional school expenses, clothing, footwear, toiletries, phone credit, internet access, etc.

Can asylum seekers work?

Asylum seekers are not permitted to work in Ireland, therefore they are forced to depend on the state.

Can children who are asylum seekers or refugees go to school?

All children that have been given refugee status are entitled to the same rights as Irish children including the same access to education.

Children that are waiting for a decision on their asylum application can attend primary and secondary school, but they are not entitled to free fees for college and must pay non-EU fees which they usually cannot afford.  Remember, asylum seekers receive only €19.10 per week per adult and €15.60 per child.  It would take a long time to save enough for college fees.

How long do people wait in this system?

On average people spend three – four years in this system. For some the wait has been much longer with some people having spent over ten years in the system. Remember, that is a minimum of three/four years with very limited rights and very little say over where and how you live.

Life in Direct Provision