The handling of the controversy over the planned use of a former hotel in Oughterard, Co Galway, as a direct provision centre has been defended by the Minister of State with Responsibility for Integration.

David Stanton said he is not privy to the tendering process for any asylum centres and rejected any suggestion the centres are "inhumane".

He said the 38 centres across the country are unrecognisable from how they were when the system was first set up.

Speaking on RTÉ's Today with Sean O'Rourke, Mr Stanton said he met Galway West TDs yesterday to discuss a State contract for the centre in Outherard.

The minister defended his handling of the local controversy and said he is not privy to the tendering process for any asylum centres.

Mr Stanton said of the 143,000 non-EEA nationals living here, less than 7000 live in direct provision centres, and work continues to speed up how long they stay living there. 

He said he is "not happy" that 1,200 people remain living in emergency accommodation, but the alternative is that they are on the street.

He said more than half of residents can now cook independently and people are given the right to work after nine months.

He said the Government has opened up tenders looking for more suitable accommodation options for these people. 

Minister Stanton added that employee and internship schemes are also being held to assist non-EU nationals access the workplace. 

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It comes as the chief executive of the Immigrant Council said that new, long-term integration policies are needed for migrants that move away from the direct provision model.

Brian Killoran told the same programme that while the Government has been improving direct provision, it is a short-term reaction that has become a long-term policy for migration.

Mr Killoran said some initiatives are beginning to enable better integration of people, but it is important that more is done to normalise asylum-seekers living in the community.

He suggested that approved housing bodies that normalise asylum housing and put people living in the heart of communities be developed.

Mr Killoran also warned that a small number of far-right agitators are targetting issues like this to harness public dissatisfaction.

He said the State and civil society need to push back against this narrative and to tackle racism.