Mosney firm paid €89m for housing asylum seekers

Wed, Feb 20, 2013, 00:00

One firm has been paid more than €89 million by the State over 10 years for providing board to asylum seekers.

In information provided to Independent TD Maureen O’Sullivan, Minister for Justice Alan Shatter has confirmed that the State has paid €655.5 million to firms providing accommodation to asylum seekers from 2000 to 2010.

Mr Shatter confirmed the Co Meath-based Mosney firm received payments of €89.5 million for providing accommodation to asylum seekers at the former holiday camp at Mosney that has capacity for 600 asylum seekers.

The firm is led by Co Louth businessman Phelim McCloskey. The figures show that three other firms received more than €40 million each.

East Coast Catering was paid €77.9 million, Bridgestock €50.3 million and Millstreet Equestrian Services received €42.6 million.

The Department of Justice yesterday confirmed that at the end of December last, there were 4,829 asylum seekers living in 35 centres in 17 counties with a current occupancy rate of 88.5 per cent.

Incredible sums

Ms O’Sullivan described the sums paid out as “incredible”. “It is a little difficult to accept that a firm like Mosney can receive such large sums when people are living in these centres for years. There doesn’t seem to be any urgency in dealing with the applications and the delays are unacceptable. I just wonder about the wisdom and the way all of this money has been spent.”

Mr Shatter confirmed last week that 60 per cent of asylum seekers were in direct-provision accommodation for three years or more.

Chief executive of the Irish Refugee Council Sue Conlan said yesterday: “The significant sums paid to the private operators of direct-provision centres contrasts starkly with the actual amount paid to asylum seekers for their own or their children’s support.

“This sum has remained the same for 12 years – €19.10 per week for adults, just under €1,000 for the year, and €9.60 per week per child, just under €500 for the year while the centre operators received over €12,500 per resident for 2012.

“In financial terms alone, there is a need for reform but the most pressing matters are the immediate and long-term effect of poverty and institutionalisation, particularly on children and young people.

In his written reply to Ms O’Sullivan, Mr Shatter said the cost of funding the Reception and Integration Agency that oversees the asylum process and pays the providers had dropped 32 per cent in four years to €62 million last year.