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major increase Direct Provision accommodation costs rises to €175 million - new figures reveal

There are 5,275 asylum seekers and refugees living in 46 Direct Provision centres throughout the country

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The Mosney Direct Provision centre in Co Meath (Niall Carson/PA)

The Mosney Direct Provision centre in Co Meath (Niall Carson/PA)

The Mosney Direct Provision centre in Co Meath (Niall Carson/PA)

Direct Provision accommodation cost the State €175 million last year, new figures reveal.

This is an increase of nearly 36 per cent on 2019, when the cost was €129 million, according to Freedom of Information documents released to Newstalk.

In 2018 the total amount was €78 million.

There are 5,275 asylum seekers and refugees living in 46 Direct Provision centres throughout the country.

The most people, 673, live in a centre in Mosney, Co Meath, with a facility in Athlone, Co Westmeath hosting 246 residents.

In February, the Government announced plans to phase out direct provision - with all centres due to close and a new system put in place by 2024.

Last month, Minister Roderic O'Gorman Minister Roderic O'Gorman said a programme board to oversee implementation of the Government’s White Paper on ending Direct Provision was about to begin its work.

There's a pledge that the new system will offer a not-for-profit service, giving international protection applicants “greater support and greater autonomy."

Minister O’Gorman also addressed the issue of past opposition to new centres which he said had arisen because of their location in “very small or very rural communities."

They had been announced “without any sort of preparatory work having been done” with locals, he added.

New centres would be in larger towns and cities, he said, and local services would be engaged to prepare for new arrivals.

The system has been criticised by numerous human rights bodies, including the United Nations, the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission and the Ombudsman for Children.

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Under the new system, the Minister said, on arrival into Ireland people would spend up to four months in State-owned reception and integration centres. Families would have own-door accommodation and individuals would have their own room.

"They will be provided with State-owned accommodation in towns and cities across the country, while they await the outcome of their application.

"This will allow applicants live independently, it will foster inclusion and integration between applicants and their host communities,” he said.

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