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Facts and figures on asylum seekers in Ireland

Accommodating those seeking international protection has become an increasingly fraught political issue and is likely to be a strong feature in political debate when the Dáil resumes from its Christmas break next week.

Here is some of the data behind the arguments around the international protection system.

‘Fair share’

A common complaint among protesters in various parts of the country, is that their area is taking more than its fair share of International Protection Applicants.

A county-by-county breakdown shows that while some counties are taking double the proportion of others, in all cases it falls below two per cent of their overall population.

Dublin, unsurprisingly, has the highest number of international protection applicants being housed, at 9,310 – or 1.7% of its population.

But Donegal has the highest proportion, housing 1,690 applicants – or 2% of its population. This is followed by Mayo with 1,250 amounting to 1.9% of its population and Monaghan with 527 or 1.8% of its population.

By comparison, the number of asylum applicants in a number of counties is less than 0.5% of its overall population, including Cavan (180) Carlow (178) Kilkenny (156) and Offaly (235) according to the latest figures available.

Tipperary, where there have been protests about the housing of migrants in Roscrea, had 577 applicants at the end of last year.

Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín who has compiled a countrywide breakdown, said he believes there is an “uneven distribution” of asylum seekers.

“Donegal has received over twice the national average and over six times the levels that counties such as Kilkenny have received,” he said.

‘Single males’

A common issue being raised among local protest groups is the housing of groups of single males.

The Government has been accused of caving into local pressure when it decided to accommodate families instead of single men, in places where protests have taken place.

So, what is the breakdown?

Last year taking an overall figure of 12,329 arrivals which have been categorised, 46% or 5,638 were single males; 28% or 3,472 were part of families with children, 15% or 1,883 were single women and 870 people, or 7%, were part of a couple.

Fine Gael Senator Barry Ward told RTÉ’s Saturday with Colm Ó Mongáin that there were no U-turns as a result of protests.

However, he said there has been a “massive increase” in the number of families with children arriving here in recent weeks.

The department data shows a drop in the proportion of single males in December, to below 40%, but it does not give precise data on families.

The cost of accommodation

The Government is considering purchasing large scale reception centres, with a cabinet decision likely in the coming weeks.

But the sums paid out to accommodation providers – largely consisting of hotels – amounts to an average of €18,500 per person housed, per year.

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