The Organisation of Reception Facilities for Asylum Seekers in Ireland

24 Mar 2014

A new report to be published by the ESRI (Friday 7 February, 2014) provides an overview of the reception system for asylum applicants in Ireland. The government’s approach to achieving a cost-effective system is outlined. Concerns about the suitability of the system, particularly for long-term residence, are discussed.

Main findings

  • Over 4,800 asylum applicants were being accommodated in 35 reception facilities at end-2012, down from just over 5,400 residents accommodated in 39 centres in 2011.
  • Some 59% had been resident for over 3 years, 31% for over 5 years, and 9% for over 7 years.
  • The Government and NGOs agree that the reception system is not suitable for long-term residence.

How does the reception system work?

  • After an initial assessment period, asylum applicants are allocated to centres located throughout the country. Most reception centres provide full-board accommodation; two are self-catering.
  • Adult residents receive €19.10 per week (€9.60 for a child) and occasional “exceptional needs” payments. Asylum applicants may not work or receive any other social welfare payment.
  • Reception centre building types include: two system-built properties, thirteen former guesthouses/hotels, nine hostels and one mobile home site.
  • All centres are managed and run by private entities under contract to the State.
  • Ireland does not participate in the EU Reception Directive and there is no domestic legislative basis for the reception system.

What types of family units are accommodated in the reception centres?

  • Eight reception centres are occupied by single males, one by single adults and two by families only. The remainder are mixed.
  • Single parent families represented almost 40% of total residents at the end of 2012.

What issues have been identified with the reception system?

  • Research and commentary point to: lack of privacy, overcrowding, insufficient facilities such as homework/play areas for children and limited autonomy, especially regarding food.
  • NGOs and international bodies have concerns about the suitability of the reception system for long-term residence, particularly of children.
  • The reception system is endorsed by the Government as being both cost-effective and flexible, but acknowledged to be unsuitable for long-term residence.

Findings from the EU-wide synthesis report*

  • Ireland is among just five States which do not provide tailored accommodation for vulnerable asylum applicants (other than unaccompanied minors).
  • All States other than Ireland and Lithuania allow asylum applicants to work, often after a certain period of time spent in the reception system.


For further information on the research please contact:

Emma Quinn, ESRI, +353 1 863 2137, [email protected]

Notes for editors:

  1. The ESRI acts as the Irish National Contact Point of the European Migration Network (EMN). The aim of EMN is to provide up-to-date, objective, reliable and comparable information on migration and asylum at member state and EU-level (see the EMN website).
  2. The EMN is co-funded by the European Commission DG Home Affairs and the Irish Department of Justice and Equality.
  3. All EMN studies are compiled according to common specifications and an EU-level synthesis report is subsequently produced.

*23 EU Member States plus Norway participated in this study.

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