The country's Catholic Bishops have sharply criticised the system of direct provision for asylum seekers.

In a statement issued following its three-day spring meeting, the hierarchy said living for prolonged periods in the full-board hostel-type environment is not appropriate for children and can inhibit their healthy growth and development.

Asylum-seeking children living in direct provision accommodation often grow up without ever having seen their parents cook a family meal, according to the bishops.

Besides accommodation, the State provides €19 a week per adult and half that for children.

The bishops said that more than one in three residents in direct provision have been waiting for more than five years for a final determination of their claim.

Separately, the chairman of Catholic development aid organisation Trócaire has said he is very disappointed that the Government will not be keeping its promise to contribute 0.7% of Gross National Income to overseas aid by next year.

Bishop of Cloyne William Crean also said he is very concerned that the Coalition has not outlined a new date for achieving the commitment by successive administrations, first made to the United Nations in 2000.

Dr Crean said reasons will be given as to why the Government cannot commit to certain obligations, but said that in this case, the poor and the most vulnerable will suffer as a consequence.

He said Irish overseas aid funding makes a crucial difference to the lives of millions of marginalised people.