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€131m paid out to house those living under direct provision

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Mosney Holidays PLC, which runs the former holiday camp as a centre for asylum seekers, was paid €10.8m. Photo: PA

Mosney Holidays PLC, which runs the former holiday camp as a centre for asylum seekers, was paid €10.8m. Photo: PA

PA Archive/PA Images

Mosney Holidays PLC, which runs the former holiday camp as a centre for asylum seekers, was paid €10.8m. Photo: PA

The Department of Justice paid more than €131m last year to accommodation providers and hotel owners to house asylum seekers in direct provision.

A log of all department payments over €20,000 - released under freedom of information - gives a detailed picture of expenditure on the direct provision system, which is currently the subject of a Government review.

Three firms, East Coast Catering, Millstreet Equestrian Services, and Mosney Holidays PLC, were each paid in excess of €10m during 2019.

Millstreet Equestrian Services was paid €11.6m, according to the Department of Justice database.

The company has provided direct provision accommodation at its Millstreet centre in Cork, as well as other centres in Kerry, Tipperary, and Waterford, during the time in which it has been contracted by the department.

East Coast Catering was paid €11.1m last year. Among the accommodation it has been involved in providing is the reception centre at Balseskin in north Dublin and the now closed centre at Hatch Hall in Dublin city centre.

Mosney Holidays PLC, which runs the former holiday camp as a centre for asylum seekers, was paid €10.8m.

The centre in Co Meath is the largest in the country and had a contracted capacity for 600 people, according to the most recently available figures from the Reception and Integration Agency.

Other companies to be paid significant amounts by the Department of Justice included Fazyard Ltd, which was paid €7.93m, Bridgestock Care Ltd, which received €7.04m, and Campbell Catering Ltd, which got €6.5m.

Fazyard Ltd has provided accommodation in the largest direct provision centre in Dublin, at the Clondalkin Towers Hotel centre, and at other locations around Ireland.

Bridgestock Care Ltd has been involved in running two centres in the west of Ireland, while Campbell Catering has provided services at State-owned accommodation including Knockalisheen in Clare, Kinsale Road in Cork, and in Athlone, Co Westmeath.

Hotel chains were also in receipt of seven-figure sums from the Department of Justice, according to the records.

A total of €2.9m in payments were listed to Clayton Hotel Liffey Valley, while Clonea Strand Hotel Ltd in Waterford was paid €1.99m.

According to the figures, Maldron Hotel Limerick received payments of €700,341, while Maldron Hotel Newlands Cross in Dublin received just over €291,000.

Vesta Hotels Ltd, which runs the 111-person-capacity Grand Hotel in Wicklow, received €1.48m while Travelodge was paid €1.68m without further detail provided on where that accommodation is.

The latest details, on which providers are still providing services and how many spaces, are not available as the Department of Justice ceased monthly publication of detailed statistics relating to direct provision last year and has not yet resumed.

A spokesman for the Department of Justice said the direct provision system had been established at a time when asylum seekers were "vulnerable to exploitation and homelessness".

He said: "More than 65,000 vulnerable people have been assisted by the system."

The spokesman said Ireland had legal obligations to provide certain services to asylum seekers, including food, accommodation, laundry and other items.

"Much of our use of emergency accommodation could be eliminated if the more than 1,000 people who have been granted permission to remain in the State but continue to reside in direct provision accommodation could relocate into mainstream accommodation," he said.

Irish Independent