The numbers who have been granted asylum here but remain in State-funded direct provision centres has soared by almost 50% to 591 in the past 16 months.

The non-Irish nationals are remaining in the 34-strong network of centres in 17 counties as they have been unable to find suitable or affordable accommodation outside the system.

As a result, the numbers with status at 591 represent 11% of the 5,442 people in direct provision centres currently. The overall numbers in direct provision has increased by 22% from 4,463 since March 2017.

The failure of the 591 to secure accommodation outside the centres along with soaring numbers seeking asylum here is pushing up the cost of funding the direct provision system this year.

In recent months, Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan confirmed that the budget for direct provision accommodation will increase to €66m this year.

This coincided with a 62% increase in people seeking asylum in the first quarter compared to the corresponding period in 2017.

Outlining the difficulties faced by the Reception and Integration Agency (RIA), senior official at the agency, Eugene Banks said last February that “our existing accommodation centres are full across the country, leaving very little bed capacity for new asylum seekers coming to Ireland”.

In a written Dáil reply to Róisín Shortall on the issue of people with asylum remaining within direct provision, Minister for State at the Department of Justice, David Stanton said: “I am aware that accessing accommodation is an issue for residents in accommodation centres given the current housing market.

Assistance in such matters is readily forthcoming from a number of sources including local authorities, local management in accommodation centres and other support groups.

“My department has funded a number of projects with NGOs such as the Jesuit Refugee Service and DePaul to assist those persons who are resident in accommodation centres who have been granted a form of status to access their own housing.

“Discussions are also ongoing with a number of approved housing bodies to provide assistance nationwide.”

Caroline Reid of the Irish Refugee Council (IRC) said it had been working with people transiting from direct provision for years and was aware of how difficult securing private rental accommodation can be.

“Aside from the challenges of moving onto independent living after protracted periods spent in Direct Provision and navigating new and unfamiliar processes, the biggest issue people face is finding landlords or letting agents that are willing to accept Housing Assistance Payments (HAP).

“More awareness needs to be raised amongst landlords and letting agents about this payment and how it works – in essence it guarantees that rent will be paid every month, on time.

“There are also evident cases of discrimination against people in receipt of social welfare payments, an issue that affects a much broader group of people in Irish society.”

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