More than 650 people have been in direct provision for over five years

New figures show there were over 4,200 asylum seekers in Ireland last month

More than 650 people have been in direct provision for over five years

Demonstrators in Dublin called for an end to direct provision | File photo:

More than 650 people living in direct provision have been in the system for more than five years, according to new figures.

Information provided by Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald to Sinn Féin TD Seán Crowe shows there were 4,248 asylum seekers in reception centres nationwide at the end of August 2016.

Around one in four of these had been in the country for less than a year, with a further 1,364 in the system for between one to three years, and 434 for between three and five years.

The overall figures include around 550 people who were preparing to move into communities, having been granted refugee status.

Those with outstanding applications receive small payments every week – €19.10 per adult and €9.60 per child – with no access to employment or social housing.

The programme for partnership government commits to reforming direct provision, acknowledging that "long durations" in the system have a "negative impact on family life".

Many of the recommendations made last year by the McMahon working group, including a call for residents to be given a right to work after nine months, remain unfulfilled.

The International Protection Act signed into law in December 2015 aims to reduce to time spent by asylum seekers in reception centre.

However, applications for refugee status still take an average of 25 months to process.

Responding to a parliamentary question by Deputy Crowe, Minister Fitzgerald said the legislation will simplify the process by providing a single application system for international protection.

"Preparations for commencement of the single procedure are progressing," she said.