The CEO of the Irish Refugee Council claims that the number of people in direct provision in Ireland has exceeded capacity because many people entitled to leave cannot do so because they have nowhere else to go.
Nick Henderson told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland that there are 700 people who could now leave direct provision, but remain there because they have nowhere else to go.
There are currently 6,355 people in direct provision, according to figures from the Department of Justice obtained by RTÉ News.
The contracted capacity is 6,156. This is an increase from 6,106 in December 2018.
The department confirmed to RTÉ that the Reception and Integration Agency has had to access emergency bed spaces in hotels since September 2018 due to insufficient capacity within its existing portfolio.
Mr Henderson said there has been a steady decline in the number of vacancies in Direct Provision and the State has tried to combat this with plans for centres in rural areas such as Rooskey and Moville.
Historically there has been a warm welcome for refugees in Ireland.
The recent arson attacks were anomalies, he said.
People who could exit direct provision are not able to do so because of their meagre means and the lack of a support network.
They also face racism and discrimination, added Mr Henderson.