Direct provision firms paid €72m last year as numbers surged
Six firms paid more than €5m each as asylum seeker numbers increased by 18%
A family from Syria in the direct provision centre on Abbey Street in Ballyhaunis. Photograph: Keith Heneghan/Phocus
A surge in the numbers of asylum seekers living in direct provision saw the fees paid to private firms operating the network of centres across the country rise to €72 million last year.
In 2018 the numbers of people being accommodated in direct provision increased 18 per cent, from 5,096 at the start of the year to 5,997 at the end of December.
New figures published by the Department of Justice show that six firms received payments of more than €5 million each last year.
The figures show that the contractor to receive the highest amount from the Department of Justice was Mosney Holidays, which received fees of €8.69 million.
The company operates a direct provision centre for 600 asylum seekers at Mosney, Co Meath, and the €8.6 million it received last year brings funds received by the company from the State between 2002 and 2018 to a total of €136 million, for its direct provision service.
The increased numbers of people seeking asylum has had Department of Justice officials scrambling to identify new direct provision centres.
Last year the department moved to set up a new centre for 115 asylum seekers in the north Clare village of Lisdoonvarna after local hotelier Marcus White made his King Thomond hotel available. The latest figures show his company, James White & Co Ltd, received fees of €1.24 million for 2018.
Much attention was also given to the arrival of a group of Syrian refugees at the Abbeyfield Hotel at Ballaghaderreen in Co Roscommon, and the figures show that the owner of the hotel, Next Week & Co, received payments of €3.16 million in 2018.
Along with Mosney Holidays , one other business received payments of more than €7 million last year. Alan Hyde’s Barlow Group received fees of €7.5 million for accommodating asylum seekers in Cork and Waterford.
Millstreet Equestrian Services – which provides accommodation for more than 500 asylum seekers in Cork and Waterford – received payments of €6.53 million. Between 2000 and 2018, the company received a total of €82.5 million in fees from the State.
Aramark’s Campbell Catering last year received €5.89 million for operating State-owned direct provision centres at in Co Clare, Co Cork and Co Meath where over 825 asylum seekers are accommodated.
Bridgestock caters for about 500 asylum seekers in Ballyhaunis, Co Mayo, and Sligo town. The €5.8 million it received last year brings to €97 million the firm has received in payments between 2000 and 2018.
East Coast Catering, which accommodates about 600 asylum seekers in Dublin and Louth, last year received €4.4 million.
The figures also show that Onsite Field Management received fees of €2.8 million to provide services for 335 asylum seekers at four centres in Co Kerry.
Sidetracks, which accommodates 162 asylum seekers at a Great Western Hotel in Galway, last year received €2 million in fees while another firm, Tattonward, which accommodates 175 people at Drumgoask, Monaghan, received €2.1 million.