National Day of Action to End Institutionalised Living for Asylum Seekers

Posted On: 23 April 2013

Asylum seekers, refugees, human rights supporters and members of the public are sending a message to the Government today (23/4/2013) that we, the people who live in Ireland, want an end to the system of institutionalised accommodation for asylum seekers, known as Direct Provision.  Events are taking place in Dublin, Cork, Tralee, Limerick, Castlebar and Galway as part of a national day of action to end Direct Provision.  The Irish Refugee Council is coordinating the day of action.

Sue Conlan, CEO of the Irish Refugee Council, says: “The people in Direct Provision are forced to be dependent on the state, year in year out, with no control over their lives and no opportunity to work or make significant decisions for themselves, let alone their children.  At the end of this, they are deskilled and demotivated and then face an enormous challenge to integrate and become self-sufficient after so many years of dependency and social exclusion.

“It is difficult to understand why the authorities maintain this system when the evidence of the human, financial and social cost is clear.”

Two current residents and one former resident of Direct Provision are addressing the gathering outside Leinster House, before marching to the Department of Justice.  Five children from Direct Provision centres across the country, accompanied by former Supreme Court judge Catherine McGuinness, are presenting their personal messages to the Minister for Justice.  At the events in Cork, Limerick, Tralee, Galway and Castlebar, messages to the Minister are being recorded on camera and posted online, as well as emailed to the Minister.  In Castlebar, asylum seekers and supporters are delivering their message to the constituency office of An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny.

Mrs Justice Catherine McGuinness says: “As a society we cannot allow this system to continue.  For years we have been learning about the abuses and harms inflicted on vulnerable people in Ireland’s past in unregulated, poorly monitored institutions where profit was valued over humanity.  It is unspeakable that this is still happening today to a very vulnerable group of children, men and women.”

The Irish Refugee Council advocates a model of reception that is based on support for asylum seekers during their initial months in Ireland, and moving to self-catered accommodation and the right to work after six months if their asylum application has not been processed.  The Council is also calling on the Government to sign the EU directive on reception conditions.  Ireland is one of only two countries that has opted out of the directive and is now the only EU country which does not permit asylum seekers to work after a designated period.


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Media queries:

Sharon Waters                                  085 8585 510 /




  • Sue Conlan, CEO of the Irish Refugee Council (IRC), Mrs Justice Catherine McGuinness, patron of the IRC, Lassane Ouedraogo, a former resident of Direct Provision, who has now got refugee status, Reuben Hambakachere and Josephine Bakaabtsile, who are currently living in Direct Provision, are available for interview.  Contact Sharon Waters – 085 8585 510.
  • The system of Direct Provision was set up on an administrative basis in 2000 to cope with a significant increase in the numbers seeking asylum in Ireland.  It was intended that asylum seekers would spend approximately 6 months living in accommodation centres.
  • The majority of asylum seekers have been resident in Direct Provision centres for over three years and a significant number for more than seven.


Duration 0-1 years 1-2 years 2-3 years 3-4 years 4-5 years 5-6 years 6-7 years +7 years
No.of people 539 630 770 945 812 670 397 272


  • Under the Direct Provision system, asylum seekers live in hostel-style accommodation where they receive three meals a day but have no access to cooking facilities and cannot plan and manage their own and their children’s diets.   Asylum seekers are not allowed to work but receive a weekly allowance of €19.10 per adult and €9.60 per child.
  • The value of contracts to private businesses to operate Direct Provision centre was €655 million from 2000 to 2010.  The estimated expenditure for 2012 was €63.5 million.
  • There are approximately 4,800 people living in Direct Provision accommodation of whom 32% are children.
  • There are currently 35 accommodation centres across 17 counties.