Record spend of €120m on Direct Provision in 2019
- 20 years of Direct Provision: Over 6,000 people in the system this Christmas
- On average, one in six applicants are granted permission to stay in the country
The State is expected to have spent a record €120m on the Direct Provision system this year, surpassing the €100m limit for the first time in almost 20 years.
The controversial system was first introduced almost two decades ago in April 2000. This year, over 6,000 people are spending Christmas in the direct provision system across the country.
The Direct Provision system involves a range of Government departments providing essential services such as accommodation, food, health and education to international protection applicants.
One in six applicants are granted permission to stay in the country. As of the end of October this year, the State had received 4,198 Applications for International Protection and 703 people were granted permission to stay here.
The majority of the applicants come from Albania, Georgia, Zimbabwe, Nigeria and South Africa.
The system was originally intended to be a temporary stop gap for asylum seekers. However, new figures released by The Department of Justice to Independent.ie show that the processing time for applicants fully processed in the first nine months of this year was on average 15.8 months.
The average time for fully processing prioritised cases was 9.2 months - these include especially vulnerable applicants, such as unaccompanied minors.
McMahon Report 2015 showed that almost half (43.5pc) of people were spending five years or more in direct provision centres, but this figure fell to just 2pc in the first three months of this year.
The State provides the sites for seven accommodation centres in Westmeath, Kerry, Cork and Clare and 32 privately run centres.
Asylum seekers were also given the right to work last year after the blanket ban was deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 2017.
Services such as management, catering, security and support services at all centres nationwide are contracted through public tendering.
A Department of Justice spokesman told Independent.ie that they are now hoping to cut processing times for first instance recommendations to nine months.
"In relation to the length of time applicants spend in the international protection process, while some individuals may live for many years in direct provision centres, these are almost all applicants who have received previous negative decisions and are exercising their right to appeal through the International Protection Appeals Tribunal or the courts.
"The Department has introduced a number of measures aimed at reducing the time taken to determine applications. The International Protection Act, 2015, introduced the single procedure process for the determination of protection applications.
"Under the single procedure all elements of a person's protection claim (refugee status, subsidiary protection status and permission to remain) are considered together rather than sequentially. The aim of the single procedure is to help reduce waiting times significantly," he said.