CORK now has the highest number of people housed in direct provision centres in the country, according to the latest figures released by the Reception and Integration Agency (RIA).
The numbers of asylum seekers living in Cork in December increased to 663, compared with Dublin, which now has just 649, despite having the capacity for more than 900 asylum seekers.
Cork city and county can accommodate up to 757 asylum seekers under current contracts and city-based direction provision centres in Glounthane, Kinsale Road, and Wellington Road all remain under capacity.
Meanwhile, Nasc, the immigrant support centre based in Cork, has expressed concern at the high number of family reunification visa applications refused for people from several Middle Eastern and African countries.
There were 59 of these applications refused for people from Syria, Iraq, Eritrea, Libya, Jordan, Turkey, Yemen and Afghanistan in 2016 and there has been a further nine so far this year.
The current law allows immigrants the right to be joined by a spouse that they are already married to when they submit their application as well as any children who are under 18.
Refugees and those who are granted permission to remain in Ireland on humanitarian grounds must apply to the Department of Justice for their family members to join them.
The refusal figures emerged in Parliamentary Questions responses provided by Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality Frances Fitzgerald.
Fiona Hurley, Nasc's legal services manager, said Ireland must not follow America in implementing extreme border controls.
“Nasc has provided support to several Syrian families currently residing or naturalised in Ireland in their applications for family reunification visas, which have been subsequently refused or remained undecided in the past year. These include applications for elderly parents and women and children trying to join their families here in Ireland. Given the horrific conditions in Syria, we are deeply concerned for the safety of our clients’ family members,” she said.