Asylum seeker applications increase by 129pc since start of year
In January and February, 416 applications were recorded
There has been a 129pc increase in the number of people seeking asylum in Ireland since the start of the year, the Herald can reveal.
With a huge increase in the numbers of refugees attempting to gain entry into Europe from North Africa in the past two years, Ireland along with other EU countries, is experiencing a spike in numbers arriving here.
The figures from Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald show that in January and February of this year, 416 applications were recorded.
This compares with 181 during the same period last year.
"The rate of increase in the number of applications is accelerating to date this year," Ms Fitzgerald said.
"In that regard, it should be noted that there were 1,448 applications for asylum in 2014, which represents an increase of 53pc on the previous year," she added.
The Irish Refugee Council said there is not yet any conclusive evidence as to why such a large increase in numbers arriving here seeking asylum has happened.
Chief executive of the Irish Refugee Council Sue Conlan said that there is sufficient capacity in the system to cope with the increase in those coming here once the Government has dealt with those who have been languishing in direct provision centres for years.
"If the Government cleared the numbers in direct provisions for a long time, there is capacity there to facilitate such spikes in new arrivals," she said.
Last year, the direct provision system cost the taxpayer €53m, with 4,364 asylum seekers housed in direct provision accommodation.
A firm that is running a controversial direct provision centre for asylum seekers in Limerick was one of three contractors to receive more than €5m each of taxpayers' money last year.
Last August, residents at Mount Trenchard in Foynes protested at living conditions at the base and demanded its closure.