A new report published by the Department of Justice has found that children living in Direct Provision feel "unsafe".

The report, the first of its kind, which was carried out by researchers at University College Cork on behalf of the Government, finds that children also have concerns relating to racism and bullying.

Direct Provision provides for the welfare of asylum seekers and their families as they await decisions on their asylum application and consists of free bed and full board with centrally-cooked meals.

€15.60 a week is paid in respect of each child, and a little more to the adults who are forbidden to work.

Last month, over 1,200 children were living in centres - over a quarter of the total in the scheme.

The Government commissioned a face-to-face consultation with 110 of them in 2015.

The report found that young people are dissatisfied with the Direct Provision system and say their personal well-being has been negatively impacted.

Many of the complaints were about the standard of accommodation, food, and the length of time they had to stay in the system.

Some children also said they did not feel safe when sharing space with single men, and described their living conditions as "overcrowded" and "dirty".

They also said they are frequently subjected to rudeness and insensitive treatment by staff in the centres.

Many children also raised issues relating to racism, stigma and bullying, in both the accommodation centres and at school.

The Government's Special Rapporteur for Child Protection Dr Geoffrey Shannon said Direct Provision interferes with children's rights to have a "normal life".

He said DP is is a disproportionate response to a need to control borders and positive action needs to be taken, adding the time for action is now.

"I think we need to look at the fact - the poor practices of the present become the tribunals of the future and what I am suggesting we do, we need no more reports, what we need is positive action.

"Let us not be back here in 20 years time regretting the fact that positive action was not taken now to make sure that children are left in high-risk environments. The time for action is now."

Chief Executive of the Children's Rights Alliance Tanya Ward said consultations were carried out with 110 children at the end of 2015 and many children spoke about feeling unsafe.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, she said: "The issue was them being accommodated with large groups of single men.

"Men looking at them in a creepy way, men propositioning them. It is not a good idea to put large groups of single men in with families."

She warns that with this set-up you increase the situation of grooming type scenarios and a government strategy is needed to limit these type of risks.

She also said it is difficult for children to compete for recreational space as the recreational rooms were being taken over by single men.

Ms Ward also said food comes up consistently in this report.

"Children complained about undercooked food, chicken with blood still on it, food being tasteless, and never seeing their mothers being able to cook food.

"I know since then the Government has been piloting self-catering for families and that is an important step forward."

Ms Ward also said the treatment of children by centre staff was raised in this report.

"The vast majority said they felt disrespected by centre staff and that they were mean to them. This is the kind of treatment you would expect in large scale institutions and there would be real parallels for survivors of industrial schools."

She said ultimately the goal should be to get people out of these centres.