A judge who chaired a review of the State's treatment of asylum seekers says a lack of proper resourcing is contributing to the continuing long delays in processing applications for asylum.

Retired High Court Judge Bryan McMahon was speaking in Cork at a conference on the future of asylum reception in Ireland.

Judge McMahon said despite the introduction of a single procedural system in 2016 promising decisions within six months, it still takes up to 19 months for applicants to be interviewed.

He added that it takes a further two years for a decision.

Cutting the time it took to process asylum applications was a key recommendation of the 2015 McMahon Report, which was commissioned by the government. 

His comments come as the UNHCR called for immediate action to reduce backlogs and cut the length of time people are waiting for a decision on their protection applications.

The UNHCR's Head of Office in Ireland, Enda O'Neill, said provisional figures at the end of 2017 show some 5,200 people awaiting a decision. 

Mr O'Neill said long periods of time spent in State-funded accommodation is leading to dependency and disempowerment among many people seeking protection, and hampering their integration prospects.

The conference - "Beyond McMahon - The future of asylum reception in Ireland" - was organized by NASC and UCC's Centre for Criminal Justice & Human Rights.

NASC CEO Fiona Finn said the direct provision system remains riven with delays.