Asylum seekers are covering smoke alarms and blocking fire escapes so they can secretly cook for themselves while spending months or years in the controversial direct provision system.
"Appalling" fire safety issues are among the problems revealed at centres across Ireland.
Inspection reports obtained by the Irish Independent detail overcrowded rooms, insect infestations, heroin use, damp and mould.
There was evidence of overcrowding in nine accommodation centres following inspections in early 2019.
One centre had no breastfeeding facilities for new mothers - including free access to drinking water. More than half of the 40 direct provision centres inspected last summer had no defibrillator.
Inspections from later in the year showed only two out of 28 centres had added them.
The State's International Protection Accommodation Service (IPAS), formally known as the Reception and Integration Service (RIA), carries out independent inspections at direct provision centres to make sure they are meeting their contractual obligations.
The RIA used to regularly publish the inspection reports on its website, but stopped in 2018. The Irish Independent has obtained the reports for the first half of 2019 using Freedom of Information. Some inspections for later in 2019 have recently been published by the Department of Justice.
Dozens of rooms were found with cooking equipment and tampered smoke alarms.
Knockalisheen centre in Co Clare does not have any self-catering cooking facilities for its residents. An inspection in March 2019 found covered smoke alarms in 11 rooms. Deep-fat fryers, hot plates, mini-ovens and cookers were discovered in eight rooms.
Another inspection at the same centre in December found an asylum seeker cooking in a corridor, while another was cooking in his room. Cooking equipment and fridges were still in some bedrooms.
Asylum seekers at Ashbourne House in Co Cork were storing food, cooking equipment and plates beside the toilet.
An inspection at the Clonakilty Lodge direct provision centre last summer found ants crawling up through a shower. A later inspection in September found 23 cooking appliances such as hot plates, rice cookers, microwaves and kettles in bedrooms.
An inspection at the Kinsale Road centre in Cork last June found large fridge freezers in 21 bedrooms. Two "extremely large" industrial sewing machines were found in one bedroom, evidence of a clothes making or altering business.
An inspection at the same centre in December found fire doors wedged open. There was still cooking equipment and fridges in rooms.
Heroin was discovered in a room at the Hanratty's Hostel in Limerick last December. The manager said the person staying there was an addict, and that she had "offered him help numerous times". Other rooms had smoke alarms covered and cooking equipment.
Beds were blocking doors at Mosney direct provision centre. During an inspection last June, a man staying at Mount Trenchard, Co Limerick, told an inspector he felt the accommodation was "not fit for animals" and another "complained that the accommodation being provided was a bad standard". Mount Trenchard closed this year.
Nasc, the migrant and refugee advocacy group, said the findings were "appalling but unsurprising to anyone familiar with the system of direct provision".
Figures from before the pandemic showed 5,686 people living in direct provision centres in Ireland, while at least another 1,585 asylum seekers are living in emergency accommodation.
The Department of Justice said it had been "working continuously" to improve direct provision.
"Any issues identified [in inspection reports] are communicated in writing to the contractor and the contractor is required to address any issue identified immediately. Staff from IPAS follow up to ensure all notified issues have been addressed and remedied," a spokesman said.
After each inspection, a copy of the inspection report was sent to management of each direct provision centre by the Department of Justice. Every centre responded to the Department of Justice and explained what improvements they were carrying out following issues raised in the reports. In some cases, issues such as covered smoke alarms were resolved on the same day of the inspection.