herald

Friday 20 October 2017

Asylum-seekers' nappies costing taxpayers €27k

The Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) last year spent €82,612 on flying home destitute foreign nationals from Ireland, with the majority being Romanians.

That is according to the RIA's 2013 annual report that shows that the agency spent a further €27,000 on 'nappies and miscellaneous' for asylum seekers living in 34 direct provision accommodation centres across the country.

In relation to the numbers flown home by the RIA last year, the figures show that the agency assisted in the voluntary repatriation of 323 people with 60pc of those being Romanian.

According to Principal Officer at the RIA, Noel Dowling: "This represented a significant increase of 110 persons (34pc), and of €24,973 (43pc), since 2012 and may correspond with a general increase in destitution and homelessness nationwide."

repatriated

The annual report states that "those who have previously availed of the scheme will not be repatriated a second time, while those who fail to take a flight arranged for them will not be offered a second flight".

The figures show that last year, it cost the RIA €48,678 to repatriate 196 Romanians and this compared to the RIA spending €28,662 on flights repatriating 112 Romanians in 2012.

The annual report shows that the RIA repatriated 29 Poles, 25 Lithuanians, 25 Slovakians and 19 Hungarians in 2013.

In contrast to the plight of those flown home by the RIA, the direct provision system continued to be a bonanza for the firms providing direct provision services.

The figures show that last year the RIA paid €45.73m to private firms in respect of commercially owned centres and an additional €6.9m to firms in respect of the management of State-owned centres.

Currently, firms are paid €24.49 per person per day in the 34 direct provision centres in 16 counties, while the same contract for State-owned centres averages at €15.50.

Purchase orders published by the Department of Justice show that last year East Coast Catering received €4.79m; Campbell Catering Ltd received €4.57m; Millstreet Equestrian Services received €4.4m, Mosney received €4.1m and Bridgestock received €3.8m. All payments were inclusive of VAT.

earnings

All of the above firms - apart from Campbell Catering Ltd - are unlimited and are not required to publish their earnings from direct provision.

The number of asylum seekers accommodated by RIA on December 31 last was 4,360, a decrease of 481 persons, or 10pc, from the same date in 2012.

In a written Dail response, the Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald said that the estimated costs for the RIA in 2014 is €51.9m.

At the end of December, Nigerians accounted for 26.7pc in direct provision with 8.5pc from DR Congo; 7pc from Pakistan and 6pc from Zimbabwe. The largest percentage block was from 82 other nationalities making up 34pc.

hnews@herald.ie

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