€100,000 spent flying foreign nationals home
More than €100,000 has been spent over the past two years to fly destitute foreign nationals back to their native countries.
Figures from the Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) show that last year the agency spent €44,942 flying home 198 non-Irish nationals from EU accession states.
This followed a spend of €59,633 flying home 243 destitute EU accession state citizens in 2015.
The figures show that of the 198 flown home in 2016, 131 were Romanian.
The RIA figures show that the peak period for the repatriation of foreign nationals was in July and August of last year when the RIA booked 29 flights for each month.
The spend on flights for the month of July last year was €9,176.
The outlay on flying Romanians home in 2016 totalled €27,360.
This followed a spend of €38,016 in 2015.
The next highest amount in 2016 flying home EU accession state citizens was €3,064 spent returning Latvian nationals to their home country.
The detailed figures for 2016 show that 13 Latvians were flown back along with 11 Slovakians, 10 Poles and nine from Hungary and Lithuania.
The RIA does not itself determine whether the EU citizen is destitute - individuals are assessed and referred to RIA, in the main, by the Asylum Seeker and New Communities Unit (ASNCU) of the Department of Social Protection.
The RIA does not accept direct referrals from embassies, third party or NGO groups, or by individuals themselves.
The RIA states that if absolutely necessary, and subject to availability of accommodation, it will accommodate the persons concerned for one or two nights in its designated Dublin centre and provide them with transport home as soon as is practicable and cost efficient.
It states: "Those who have previously availed of the scheme will not be repatriated a second time, while those who fail to take a flight arranged for them will not be offered a second flight."
Separately, the numbers of foreigners deported by the State last year soared by 50pc to 428, and it cost the State €698,814 in deportation flights.
The 428 deported last year is an increase of 142 on the 286 deported in 2015.
In addition to the 428 deportation orders effected, 1,200 Deportation Orders were signed in 2016.
This represents a 56pc increase on the 765 orders signed in 2015.
According to the Department of Justice, the top six countries of origin of those deported were Nigeria, China, Ghana, Brazil, Albania, and South Africa.
In addition, the numbers of foreigners blocked at Irish air and sea ports last year increased by 20pc from 3,450 to 4,127.
Of the 4,127 refused entry, 396 were subsequently admitted to pursue a protection application.
Under long-standing international aviation rules, the airline that has brought a refused passenger is required to take that passenger back from where they have come.