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Ireland spending €150 million a year on asylum system

One third of asylum seekers in Ireland are children and many people have been waiting more than a decade for a decision on their application.

Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

FIGURES FROM THE Department of Justice have revealed how much Ireland’s asylum system is costing the government with at least an estimated €150 million spent each year.

Minister Frances Fitzgerald recently made public figures for spending on Ireland’s direct provision accommodation system, which is set to hit €51.9 million this year. However, the minister pointed out that direct provision is “only one element of the State’s response to its international obligation on the asylum issue”.

As well as educational, health and welfare costs, there is the asylum determination system itself, as well as the downstream judicial and policing costs. All countries which take their responsibilities in this area seriously are faced with similar calls on their financial resources.

She revealed that in a five year period from 2005 to 2009, the government spent a total of more than €1.27 billion on asylum seekers, of which €424 million was spent on direct provision.

This means just one third of the overall money spent on the system is spent on the accommodation centres and indicates the government could spend more than €150 million altogether by the end of this year.

There are currently 4,353 asylum seekers in Ireland and concerns have again been raised recently about the living conditions they endure at accommodation centres around the country, where many of them have been living for more than a decade. Over 68% of asylum seekers in the country at the moment first sought asylum over three years ago.

One third of asylum seekers in Ireland are children.

TD Denis Naughten said it is “inhumane to keep people for years on end in accommodation that was only designed as a short term solution”.

It is morally wrong to leave people who require protection in such conditions for years while also being in legal limbo, with some now well into their second decade in the asylum process.

“Asylum seekers have a right to a timely and fair process in determining their entitlement to refugee status,” he continued. “It is unfair on them and it is also unfair on the taxpayer who is funding this system to the tune of €156m every year.”

“It’s a massive amount of money,” he told TheJournal.ie. He said what the country needs to is have two dedicated judges to deal with it and to “pay them extra to work over the summer months.”

“They vast majority of people, what they really want is a definitive decision, not to be left in this limbo we’re in.”

Naughten said the solution to this problem may cost more initially but that will be “minuscule compared to the potential savings and the impact on people’s wellbeing”.

Read: Direct Provision food protest ends with hope for improved conditions>

Read: Keeping children in Direct Provision for 10 years is not right, says Logan>

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