Carl O'Brien has interviewed a number of residents of Ireland's Direct Provision centres for the Irish Times series 'Lives in Limbo'. Here they share some of their insights, frustrations, and hopes for the future. Video: Bryan O'Brien
Asylum seekers are not allowed to work. They are not entitled to social welfare. And they are excluded from social housing and free third-level education.
Many asylum seekers in the State’s direct provision system spend years in conditions which most agree are damaging to their health, welfare and life-chances.
In all, more than 4,300 people, including 1,600 children, live in 34 accommodation centres spread across the State.
The centres, which include former hostels, hotels and a mobile home park, are run by private contractors who receive about €50 million in State funding annually.
The United Nations and international human rights groups have heavily criticised the system.
Former Supreme Court judge Catherine McGuinness has predicted that a future government will end up publicly apologising for damage done by the direct provision system.
But the voices of asylum seekers are rarely heard.
Many are fearful that speaking out will damage their request for refugee status.
Their personal stories provide a rare insight into the impact of the system on these lives in limbo.